SPRINGDALE -- The City Council on Tuesday night approved 7-1 buying land on Don Tyson Parkway for the city's new animal shelter.
The city plans to pay $525,000 for land, with $300,000 coming from the animal shelter bond fund and $225,000 from the park bond fund. Mayor Doug Sprouse said the city would build the animal shelter on the 4 acres adjacent to the parkway, with the remaining 6 acres to the south to be developed as a park and perhaps a trailhead for Dean's Trail, planned to run along the eastern edge of the site.
Proposed animal shelter features
• Housing for 76 dogs
• Housing for 86 cats
• Indoor/outdoor kennels
• Separate kennels for stray and adoptable animals
• Medical isolation areas
• Adoption meeting rooms and play yards
• Storage areas
• Staff offices
Source: Shelter Planners of America needs assesement study, November 2017
A corporation named One Springdale has owned a 12-acre tract on Don Tyson Parkway, just east of Old Missouri Road, since November 2004, when the company bought the land for $724,000, according to county property records. Phillip Taldo of Springdale, a Realtor with Weichert, Realtors, the Griffin Co., and a member of the Arkansas Highway Commission, is listed on the Arkansas Secretary of State's website as president of One Springdale.
Springdale voters on Feb. 14 approved a $200 million bond issue, with $4.7 million earmarked as the maximum cost to build the shelter and $19.4 million to develop and renovate parks and trails.
The city first proposed placing the animal shelter at the eastern entrance of J.B. Hunt Park, land the city owned. An initial design by SCM Architects of Little Rock estimated the cost of construction at $4.2 million, with $500,000 added to the total for contingencies during construction.
SCM estimated additional costs at the Tyson Parkway site at up to $25,000 to bring water to fire hydrants at the southern and eastern ends of the site and a $190,000 to prepare the site for construction and drainage. But the report also noted the site cost could come in 50 percent to 70 percent less as engineers plan with more detail.
If all the steps in the purchase, design and construction phases require the maximum estimates, the city would only be about $60,000 short of the estimate.
"Our goal is to still do it for the approximately $4.7 million," Sprouse said. "If we can't do that without decreasing the quality or the size of the shelter, then we might ask council to consider supplemental funds from the capital improvement budget."
Some neighbors of the Tyson Parkway site don't like the location for an animal shelter. Walnut Grove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center sits immediately west of the proposed site. Some residents, their family and staff spoke at several council meetings, citing safety and comfort of the residents as their main concerns.
John Kendrick, medical director of the nursing home, addressed the council on Tuesday night. He spoke of the skilled-nursing facility with 20 beds for people discharged from area hospitals. "They've had a heart attack. They've had major heart surgery. They've had belly surgery or broken hips, out of control diabetes, COPD. And they come to us for two weeks of recovery and physical therapy," he said. "I don't know anything about your dog deal, but I do know these people need peace and quiet to recover."
Kendrick also spoke of the home's memory care unit, currently with 17 patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. He said the patients in the unit are very impulsive, easily startled and fall often, causing broken bones or head injuries. A big picture window of the unit looks over the land, within about 300 feet of the planned shelter, he said.
Nursing home staff and administration have spoken of the fear of loose dogs, noise from outdoor kennels as well as noise, dust and debris from construction of the shelter building.
Steve Lisle, a Springdale attorney representing Olotor LLC, the company that owns Walnut Grove, cited the lack of a clear plan for the shelter that would mitigate the concerns. The only plan available was the original needs assessment from Shelter Planners of America and SCM Architects' initial design, based on the J.B. Hunt Park site, he said. He also asked for a contingency plan if the concerns arose after construction because the nursing home staff must plan for worst-case scenarios.
Sprouse said those details would be available when the final design for the project comes before the city's Planning Department for approval. "From Day One, we will work with the staff at Walnut Grove to see that their concerns are addressed," Sprouse said.
"We've just got to continue to being responsible for the care of our elderly, frail patients," said Don Eicher, a corporate attorney for Olotor, after the meeting.
Council member Rick Evans, who represents residents living in the ward around the Tyson Parkway site, said he had received just one complaint about the site from his constituents. Council member Rick Culver said he received just one complaint against the site and 10 for it.
Residents in several neighborhoods around J.B. Hunt Park also attended City Council meetings and a public input session to voice their concerns about that site, worried about noise, odor and loss of property value. Culver said he received about 200 notices against it.
When another site was proposed on Huntsville Avenue near Central Junior High School, council members voted to drop the Hunt Park site from consideration. Council members chose the Tyson Parkway site over the Huntsville site and a site in the city's industrial district because it presented the lowest cost for land improvements, members said.
Sprouse said, the arguments against the Hunt site had changed over the time it was being considered. "A lot of opposition was not based on fears of what an animal shelter would bring, but rather taking up very valuable green space. They objected to putting anything in that beautiful area."
Council member Rick Evans agreed. "They wanted to see the park used as a park, rather than something else," he said. "They liked the empty field where they can have a picnic or play with their kites."
"They didn't want us to hurt anything used by the public," said council member Jim Reed, who represents residents living near J.B. Hunt Park.
NW News on 08/15/2018
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