From Laura Braxling Lincoln County Animal Shelter Director:
The oldest building that comprised the Lincoln County Animal Shelter were the dog kennels built in 1966. Over time, additional buildings were added, including the lobby and catteries in 2004. The latest addition was funded, designed, and built by an outside organization and had structural issues from the very beginning. Funding for upkeep and repair of the animal shelter
is budgeted through the County Maintenance Department, and is outside of the Animal Services Taxing District. Extensive maintenance was done over the years, but it reached a point where the cost to repair was beyond what was reasonable.
In the course of developing the Commons Master Plan, it was determined that the old animal shelter site could then be used to fulfill other county needs including building a safe emergency operations center and a bus transit center to better serve the community. These new facilities are compatible with and enhanced in that location with the redevelopment plans for the Commons. In the spring of 2018, after an attempt at further repairs, it came the time for the county to decide to either invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in extensive repairs, or to start the process to build a new animal shelter in earnest.
At that time, the best estimate of the lifespan of the shelter buildings was determined to be
two to three years. In the budget process beginning in February of 2019 and culminating in June of 2019, the County Budget Committee and Board of Commissioners, respectively, approved and adopted in the County Budget $300,000 for possible land purchase for a new shelter and relocation sites were explored.
At the same time, the County expedited our search process for a new site. We explored sites with FOLCAS, had conversations with cities and reached out to local real estate professionals on, the we need to meet the following parameters: accessible to main roads with safe access; centrally located within the county if possible; zoned correctly or where zoning changes were feasible; out of the tsunami zone; away from residential areas; and within reasonable driving distance to veterinarians.
At this time, the property near the airport appears to be a viable option, as it meets our initial criteria. While the interim buildings are the best they can be given the circumstances, time is of the essence to build a shelter that meets the needs of animals, staff, volunteers, and the community. We cannot begin the planning needed to design and develop new facilities until a
permanent location for the shelter is secured.
The piece of property being considered near the airport is an up to 5-acre piece south of the entrance, a ways from the runway. If the county and city decide to move forward, there
are many design strategies that can help mitigate any noise concerns, which is very common in animal shelters. While the animals’ health and safety are of utmost concern, the vast
majority of animals who are cared for at the shelter are there for a very short time--many for a few days, others for a few weeks, and very few for two to three months.
While the animal shelter may not ultimately be in the center of Newport, we do want to be centrally located for all residents we serve from Yachats, to Harlan, to Neotsu. Everyone is committed to exploring and expanding partnerships to help ensure animal services are accessible to everyone.