Pets of the Week Hans and Franz, as seen Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at the Homer Animal Shelter in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Mindful Paws)

Pets of the Week Hans and Franz, as seen Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at the Homer Animal Shelter in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Mindful Paws)

Seward to begin work on new animal shelter

The need to rebuild the city’s existing animal shelter was first identified by the city in its 1999 strategic plan.

In planning their new animal shelter, the City of Seward is finally barking up the right tree.

The city hopes to open the doors of its new animal shelter next spring after two decades of efforts.

The need to rebuild the city’s existing animal shelter, the Alice Pickett Memorial Animal Shelter, was first identified by the city in its 1999 strategic plan.

The city hopes to open the doors of the new animal shelter next spring, having approved a new location in 2018. Among problems with the current shelter, which has not been significantly changed or updated in more than 20 years, are its location and ability to accommodate necessary services and supplies.

The shelter’s current location on Sixth Avenue places it inside a tsunami inundation zone and in a residential area. It is unable to expand into surrounding areas in the event of a community emergency. The shelter is also too small. Employees have no real way to quarantine sick animals, which is a problem if they are highly contagious. A lack of space for supplies and room for thorough veterinary examinations is also a problem.

The shelter also has no bathroom, which means staff have to use a port-a-potty located next to the building.

In its efforts to build a new shelter, officials worked to ensure the building could accommodate and store necessary supplies, could be maintained by 1.5 employees and not be so large that it ended up costing the city money.

A model of the facility, built by Seward Police Department Chief Karl Shaefermeyer, offers a 3D look of the space, which would have a total area of about 2,600 square feet, including a 1,600-square-foot outdoor play yard. Other features of the facility would include indoor and outdoor kennels, indoor and outdoor spaces for cats, a parking lot with ADA-compliant spaces and an indoor bathroom that is also ADA compliant.

The new shelter will be located at 605 Sea Lion Ave., a site selected by Community Development Director Jackie Wilde. The location is not in a tsunami zone, is away from residential housing and would allow for the shelter to expand into tented areas in the event of a community emergency.

The next step in the process is for the city to put out a request for proposals, or RFP, for design, building construction and permitting, which is expected to be the most cost-effective path to completion for the city. Doing so allows the project to get underway as soon as the city selects a bidder.

At an estimated cost of between $200 and $250 per square foot plus upfitting, the total project cost is expected to be around $800,000 or less.

The city is hoping to put the RFP out to bid either this month or next, select a bid winner in May and begin construction this summer, with a grand opening next spring.

More information about the project, including 3D modeling composed by Shaefermeyer, can be found on the city’s website at cityofseward.us.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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