Cedar City’s Animal Adoption Center taking shape but still tight on cash

Construction crews work on the foundation of Cedar City's new Animal Adoption Shelter, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 1, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Cedar City’s new animal adoption shelter has started taking shape, as construction crews have been digging and preparing the ground for the building’s foundation.

Sign at the construction site of Cedar City’s new Animal Adoption Shelter, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 1, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

On Sept. 19, nearly six months after the initial ceremonial groundbreaking took place, the Cedar City Council formally approved the project, awarding the $1.459 million bid to Grass Creek Construction of Washington County.

The council passed the measure 4-1, with Paul Cozzens casting the lone nay vote. Cozzens said although he wasn’t opposed to the facility itself, he thought the cost was too high and that he wanted to wait and see if construction costs would come back down.

Actual ground was broken on the project the last week of September, a few days after the council’s approval.

Read more: As costs go up, Cedar City Council delays decision on $1.46 million bid for animal shelter

The project’s scheduled timetable is just over nine months, meaning the new facility should be completed by June 2019.

At 5,500 square feet, the new building will have more than three times the floor space of the city’s existing shelter, located a short distance down the street on Kitty Hawk Drive.

“I’m so excited,” Cedar City Animal Shelter assistant Tina Garrison said. “When people see the difference (between the old and new facilities), it’s going to be well worth it.”

Tina Garrison at dog kennels at the current Cedar City Animal Shelter, Cedar City, Utah, March 14, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

In addition to adding much-needed space, the new facility will have better drainage and ventilation systems, she said, thereby reducing the likelihood that diseases will spread.

Fundraising efforts

Cost concerns were a primary reason the project was delayed for several months. The City Council had already secured the ability to borrow up to $1.265 million in Community Impact Board funds, but that amount was still nearly $200,000 under the lowest of the three bids, even after cost-cutting measures were applied to the proposal.

To make up the difference, the council voted during its Sept. 19 meeting to use cash reserves from the city’s general fund, minus any funds that are raised through private donations.

City Council member Scott Phillips, who reiterated during the meeting that he believed between $300,000 and $400,000 could be raised through private fundraising efforts, says he remains confident that is the case.

Phillips, who is also on the animal shelter’s 10-member fundraising committee, said the group met again in late September with re-energized sense of purpose, now that the project has finally been greenlit.

“We’re ready to move forward now,” Phillips told Cedar City News as he outlined some of the ways donations are being sought:

  • One of the fundraising efforts is called the Thousand Dollar Club, which involves seeking $1,000 donations from at least 100 individuals or businesses. Cedar City veterinarian Kelly Esplin is heading up the effort. Donors’ names will be engraved on special bricks, a plaque or some similar form of recognition, Phillips said, adding that nearly a dozen donors have already committed to the initiative.
  • At least three different grant proposals are being prepared, which Phillips said will seek funding from foundations and animal advocacy groups, both in and out of state. The current shelter’s “no kill” status should help it receive favorable attention and support from animal rights groups, he added.
  • Smaller fundraising drives are also being planned. “We really want to engage the community and the schoolchildren, because I’m hoping we can raise $50,000 to $100,000 in grassroots campaigns where kids go out and help us with various projects, raising some money through all kinds of little things,” Phillips said, suggesting activities like having an animal parade or placing donation jars around the community. “Every little bit adds up and helps.”

“I’m really optimistic that we’re going to be able to move forward,” Phillips said. “Whether we’ll be able to raise all the money, I don’t know, but obviously any amount of money we raise, from $100,000 to $400,000, is going to be able to reduce the amount of debt that we have to pay back on that loan. That loan has a super rate of interest, and there’s no penalty for early payoff. It’s the best kind of guaranteed loan that we can get.”

A resident cat at the current Cedar City Animal Shelter, Cedar City, Utah, March 14, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Phillips said the ultimate goal is to provide better and more humane treatment for animals and enable them to be properly cared for and/or adopted by human caregivers.

“This is just something that needed to happen,” Phillips said. “Our old facility is over 65 years old. It was originally a cold storage building, so it was never intended to be an animal shelter. We just need to be better caretakers in our community, and it’s a great first step.”

Tax-deductible donations may be made online through the Animal Adoption Center’s website. Checks made out to Cedar City Animal Adoption Shelter may also be mailed or brought in person to the current facility at 1626 Kitty Hawk Drive, Cedar City, UT 84721 or to the Cedar City offices, 10 N. Main Street, Cedar City, UT 84720.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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