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Animal Control facility finally ready

Caption
Mary Lou England, Executive Director of the Kane County Health Department tours the new Kane County Animal Control Facility on Keslinger Road in Geneva, Ill. on Tuesday, January 30, 2007. "It's so good to see what you put on paper realized," England said. The facility includes a “double decker” set of kennels in order to maximize the available space. (Rebekah Raleigh photo)

GENEVA – After six years, three locations, two designs, one contract cancellation, and $2.1 million, Animal Control workers will move into Kane County’s first stray shelter today.

The Kane County Animal Control Facility officially will open sometime next month, Animal Control Director Pat Sikorski said. On Tuesday, the day before workers started moving in, the department invited members of the Public Health Committee for an informal tour.

The County Board first approved the facility in December 2000, at the urging of then-Director Joseph Busch.

“This has been a struggle, and to get it done at the beginning of the year is great,” said committee Chairman Gerry Jones, D-Aurora.

The building has 76 kennel runs, 27 cages for cats, an enclosed exercise area, a room where potential adopters can play with the pooches, and two rooms for future growth.

The $2.1 million price tag includes everything inside the building, not just the building itself.

“We won’t know exactly where we are [with cost] until we do the final punch list,” Jones said.

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said the facility would meet the county’s animal shelter needs for 20 to 30 years. However, that does not include any municipalities that contract with the county to house strays.

“The more municipalities we contract, the shorter the life span of the facility,” McConnaughay said.

No municipalities have signed contracts yet. However, in December, Animal Control revamped its fee structure in anticipation of taking municipal strays.

The $2.1 million cost tops a previous, two-story design for $1.58 million. However, the $1.58 million was for just the building, not for the cages or anything else inside.

The old design was scrapped after construction crews found unstable soil under what would have been a load-bearing area. Several months and two other considered locations, the new design made it so that the building could be built over the soil.

Jones said he did not like the old design, which was approved before McConnaughay put Animal Control under Public Health in 2004.

“I just thought [the design] wasn’t that well-thought-out, to be honest,” Jones said.

The old design, Jones said, skewed toward human comforts rather than space for extra cages.

“They had a waiting room to pick up dogs that was three times this size,” Jones said, gesturing to the current waiting area.

In keeping with state law, dogs with tags will be kept for seven days. Dogs without tags will be kept for five days. After that, Animal Control will try to adopt out the animal or place it with a rescue group.

Only unadoptable dogs will be put down, Sikorski said.

“Dogs that are very aggressive, that are biters, in good conscience we could not adopt out to families,” she said.

Animal Control currently has 10 full-time employees but will hire more, Sikorski said.

“[The number of new hires] depends on our volume,” she said. “Currently, we’re interviewing two people.”

Timeline

December 2000 – County Board votes, 22-1, to approve $30,000 architectural contract for preliminary design; currently contracted with Anderson Animal Shelter and Aurora Animal Control to handle strays.

May 2003 – Board approves plans to build shelter; construction expected spring 2004.

July 2004 – Board rejects bids as too high.

Aug. 2004 – Faced with ultimatum by Chairman Mike McCoy, board accepts $1.58 million bid by 11-10 vote.

September 2004 – Geneva approves plans to annex 25 acres of Peck and Keslinger roads site for water-treatment plant, would provide utilities to animal control in exchange for cut rate on land.

December 2004 – Crew digging foundation find soil unstable because of fill from 1999-2000 Peck and Keslinger overpass construction; soil tests missed soft patch. Work stops.

March 2005 – Anderson announces that it will not renew stray contracts; county plans to move center to Seavey Road site near Sugar Grove.

April 2005 – Soil tests at Seavey Road site find soil unstable; tests start on different section of property.

June 2005 – Redesign could support building at Geneva site; designs remove load-bearing pillars and moves from two stories to one.

August 2005 – Contractor cancels due to long work stoppage; county discovers that it must handle strays from towns that contracted with Anderson; price tag estimated at $2.25 million; Anderson announces three-month contract extension from March to June 2006.

September 2005 – Animal Control Department reorganized.

January 2007 – Building complete at about $2.1 million; workers move in Jan. 31.

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