Commissioners drop idea of moving animal shelter to county park
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent September 19, 2013 4:12PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:24AM
VALPARAISO — More than 40 people showed up for Thursday’s Porter County Parks Foundation meeting, intending to speak against moving the county animal shelter to Sunset Hill Farm County Park.
Most of their remarks went unsaid, however, after Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, announced commissioners are no longer considering the park or the foundation’s land for the shelter.
The decision drew applause from the crowd.
“We’re going to diligently continue looking for a new location,” she said, adding commissioners hadn’t had time to consider where that might be. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.”
The folks at the meeting, as well as David Yeager, the foundation’s president, commended commissioners for listening to their concerns.
“I think our problem has been solved for us, for which I am thankful,” Yeager said.
Commissioners announced last month that they were interested in building a new shelter at Sunset Hill, and first approached the county park board for support before moving on to the foundation, which has control of some of the park land, including the spot under consideration for the shelter.
The land is in a federal conservation program, and the foundation stood to lose that funding, and perhaps its tax-exempt status, if the shelter plans moved forward, foundation officials said.
Other concerns included carving up parkland and increasing traffic, as well as worries about how dogs at the shelter would react to the sirens of ambulances going to the nearby hospital.
Blaney appreciated the feedback the proposal received, and said the U.S. 6 corridor met the criteria for a shelter location set by a study done by Shelter Planners of America.
“We didn’t come with an edict, but an idea,” she said.
Matt Howton, manager for Porter County Parks and Recreation, also came with an idea — to put the shelter at Brookdale, on county-owned parkland that’s going unused and is about one mile north of Sunset Hill.
At one time, the county was going to develop some of that land for ball fields, but that proved too expensive, Howton said. While a lake and other area could be left for trails, a portion of the land could be used for the shelter.
“It’s strictly a brainstorm idea. It’s not set in stone,” he said, adding he lives at Brookdale, “so it would be in my backyard.”