Animal shelter plans in Porter County evolving
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent September 5, 2013 10:02PM
Updated: October 7, 2013 1:35PM
VALPARAISO — Plans for a new animal shelter in Porter County drew proponents and opponents Thursday at a meeting of the County Parks Board and revealed a couple of surprises.
As expected, the Porter County Board of Commissioners made a request for 3 to 5 acres of Sunset Hill Farm County Park for the shelter.
However, the land belongs to the Porter County Parks Foundation, which has been slowly deeding the land to the parks department. Any land decision would have to go through the foundation, not the park board.
“It will be our determination whether this satisfies our mission,” Tim Cole, a foundation member, said.
The land ownership was not the only surprise for the crowd of proponents and opponents.
County Commissioner John Evans said the proposed animal shelter site is not at U.S. 6 and Meridian Road but 1,600 feet to the east, across from Edmond Court.
Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney said someone made an anonymous donation of $1 million toward building the shelter, but she couldn’t say whether the donation was contingent on the shelter being constructed at Sunset.
Evans described the possibility of the shelter at Sunset as a working relationship between the parks and the shelter that would bring more people to both and allow for joint projects, including children at summer camps learning about the animals.
Blaney said the Shelter Planners of America study they county commissioned suggested the spot and stated the population-central location would increase visibility, accessibility and adoptions.
Cole said he saw three other spots in the southern part of the park that would not have to contend with U.S. 6 traffic.
All detractors agreed that the 41-year-old shelter south of U.S. 30 needs replacing.
Liberty Township residents said they were concerned about noise from the shelter and its proximity to the new Porter Regional Hospital. Ed Goot said the shelter on U.S. 6 goes against a corridor study that calls for open space on Sunset’s north side.
Tracie DeMack had concerns for animal welfare with ambulance sirens, medical helicopters, music and fireworks from park events and crowd noise at park events agitating confused animals.
“They don’t get adopted because they become aggressive,” she said.
Herb Read said the question isn’t if a shelter is needed but if the park is the right place.