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City Beat: New animal shelter in the works

City and county collaboration is proposed for the $4.8 million facility

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A new animal shelter could be built through an intergovernmental agreement between the city of Springfield and Greene County, pending a vote by city leaders at their next meeting.

Greene County has pledged $1.5 million toward a new $4.8 million animal shelter, Springfield City Council learned at its Sept. 6 meeting. The county already has paid $50,000 of that pledge. The remaining portion would be paid for by the city through its level property tax, with bonds to be issued in February and construction to commence next summer.

The current shelter is located at 4002 N. Farmer Road and experiences regular flooding, according to a city website devoted to the project.

Councilperson Abe McGull said the new shelter, a 15,000-square-foot facility proposed on a 5-acre lot at 3303 W. Division St., would be a huge improvement over the current facility.

“This is like the Taj Mahal,” he said.

Katie Towns, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, which oversees the animal shelter, introduced the nine-member team of animal control officers to council during the meeting, and the team was met with applause from the chamber.

“These folks, although they do have the opportunity to interact with some cute puppies, most often are put in situations where they are looking at neglect and abandonment,” she said. “They’re the folks who are going in after a dog bite.”

They are also are the people responsible for reuniting 460 dogs with their owners last year, Towns said, and for making more than 500 animals available for adoption through community partners. They also reunited nearly 200 cats with their owners.

The current shelter was constructed in the 1930s, with additions in the 1940s, 1970s and early 2000s, according to an explanation of the council bill provided by Brad Stulce, public health resource manager.

The current shelter’s maximum capacity is 60 dogs and 18 cats, and it routinely operates above this maximum capacity, Stulce said. An increased capacity is needed for veterinary housing recommendations and to meet the service demands of a large community, he added.

The project is in the preliminary design phase, and specific details about capacity, design and programming have not yet been developed.

The Greene County Commission passed a resolution in 2017 identifying a community need for a new shelter for abandoned and neglected animals, the intergovernmental agreement states.

‘Silent sports’ boost
Proposed changes to City Utilities of Springfield’s parks and recreation regulations aim to support so-called silent sports at CU properties, which are Lake Springfield, Fellows Lake, McDaniel Lake and Valley Water Mill.

“We’ve really seen a huge growth in what we’ve called the silent sports,” said Steve Stodden, vice president and chief natural gas and water operations officer for CU. “We see more desire every day for kayaks, canoes, hiking and fishing.”

That list was expanded by Christina Angle, a board member for Ozark Greenways Inc., which operates CU’s trails.

“As an organization, we support low-impact silent sports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, hiking, cycling, running, birdwatching – everything like that, that supports the active use of these buffer lands but also protects our community’s drinking water source,” she said.

Chief among the proposed changes is the addition of paddleboarding with a nonmotorized permit – the most requested rule change from the community, Stodden said.

The rule changes also would take away a currently allowable sport: waterskiing.

Additional changes are the modifying of hunting regulations to align with Missouri Department of Conservation rules, articulating a ban on alcohol except for permitted events, removing a firearms ban that is in conflict with state law and continuing a ban on overnight camping.

CU’s partners in managing recreational opportunities are the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Ozark Greenways and TrailSpring, Stodden said.

Jennifer Wilson, chair of the Board of Public Utilities that governs CU, said the proposed regulation changes are the result of input from the community.

“The result was a good balance between protection of our drinking water with the recreation opportunities of our lakes and surrounding property,” she said.

Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes at its next meeting on Sept. 19. They also will vote on CU’s operating budget for 2023. The utility’s new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Fassnight Creek trail
The city received four bids for improvements to the Fassnight Creek Greenway trail. That project will link Grant Avenue Parkway with the Springfield Art Museum.

The low bid of $460,000, received from Pleasant Hill-based Radmacher Brothers Excavating Co. Inc., was significantly higher than the city engineer’s estimate of $317,000. Dan Smith, director of Public Works, said the bids received were pretty close in cost, however.

“We feel like they’re good market bids,” he said.

Other bids were from D&E Plumbing & Heating Inc., $471,000; KCI Construction Co., $495,000; and Hunter-Chase & Associates Inc., $573,000.

Smith said a pedestrian bridge by the art museum is where most of the cost increase over the estimate was noted.

Councilperson Monica Horton asked Smith if he was concerned that local businesses were outbid by a company just outside Kansas City, but Smith said he was not concerned.

“Part of the reason for that is there is so much work out there,” he said. “Everyone’s busy.”

He added that in a conversation with a local contractor, he learned most have more than they can handle right now.

Council will vote on whether to approve the Radmacher bid at its Sept. 19 meeting. Radmacher, notably, is the company working on the Grant Avenue Parkway project.

Other action items

  • The city will apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration for up to $5.6 million in grant funds for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation effort. The grant program, part of the federal infrastructure law passed last year, is aimed at improving rail crossings and is highly competitive, according to Smith. The grant would require a 20% match from the city.
  • The Department of Workforce Development received three grants, which were approved by council. A $40,000 grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the SkillUp program, which targets people receiving public assistance. A $10,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development Show-Me Heroes program provides job support for veterans, and another $10,000 grant from the same department is for employment and training services in the region.

Council also approved the addition of six full-time equivalent positions for Workforce Development.

  • Olsson Inc. will be paid $916,000 to serve as consultant for use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to upgrade the Cooper Park and Sports Complex.
  • The city accepted 15 paper recycling bins and a 2012 Freightliner roll-off truck valued at $130,000 for the Environmental Services Department. The donation was from the recently closed Nestle Purina Petcare Co.
  • Zoning changes were proposed for 5.4 acres at 817 W. El Camino Alto Drive for a 59-unit multifamily development; for 8 acres at 2801 W. Bennett St. for a 38-unit apartment building; for 0.2 acres at 610 N. Prospect Ave., a site with an existing mill and silos dating from 1928, to allow for new retail and restaurant development; and 6.8 acres at 2645 W. Kearney St. for commercial development. •City and county collaboration is proposed for the $4.8 million facility

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