P.A.W.S. secures location for new shelter on county land

Town okays sewer line extension
Citing public benefit, the Crested Butte Town Council made an unprecedented decision to extend sewer and water lines beyond town limits. The decision will allow the Paradise Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.) to go ahead with plans to construct a new facility on county-owned land, just south of Crested Butte on Highway 135.

During a Town Council meeting on Monday, November 19, P.A.W.S. representative Jim Starr said P.A.W.S. had entered an agreement with the county to lease land next to the county shop for a new temporary animal shelter, but town assistance was needed to make the project happen.
Starr said a feasibility study had determined a septic system was not feasible on the site and asked the town if it would extend the main water line outside of the town limits. The extension would run from Red Lady Avenue up the hill along Highway 135.
“We are requesting an exclusive public purpose—to provide potable water to the facility,” Starr said.
Starr also said the Gunnison County Electric Association is planning to dig a trench next summer along the path and has donated space in the trench to P.A.W.S. Mt. Crested Butte has promised an in-kind donation worth $5,000 to help with the trench, Starr added.
Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz said town code allows the council to extend its services if it deems necessary and serves a public purpose.
Town manager Susan Parker said she supported the extension because of the public service and P.A.W.S. had money to fund the project.
“If this was for private use, I would be fighting against this, but because this would provide a public service, I can live with it,” Parker said.
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie informed the Town Council and P.A.W.S. there could be problems with water pressure since the pipe would travel uphill; he said an expensive pump may be needed. Parker added it would be P.A.W.S.’ responsibility to pay for a pump if one were necessary.
Starr said he was aware of the potential for a pump and P.A.W.S. would pay for it, although the cost of the pump is unknown. P.A.W.S. estimates the cost of the off-site infrastructure including the sewer line and electricity will be  $158,000, to be funded through donations. The Town will not be responsible for the cost of the extension.
The Town Council voted unanimously to allow the pipeline extension—the first time the town has granted such an exemption. The council also agreed to provide excavation work for the site and driveway, as well as a letter of support for grant applications.
P.AW.S. is a volunteer non-profit organization that rescues lost or abandoned animals, provides temporary shelter and adoption services, assistance with spay, neuter, and medical costs, and information about pet safety.
A task force made up of volunteers from P.A.W.S., Mt. Crested Butte, the Town of Crested Butte, the veterinary community and the county has been meeting for the past seven months to find a permanent location for a local animal shelter.
Starr said the new facility would not be a full-time shelter but rather a three-day holding shelter similar to the current facility located next to the Mountain Express bus barn. Animals are held in the facility for up to three days; after that they are transported to the shelter in Gunnison.
Starr said the facility would be a modular building with 1,500 square feet, which would house 10 kennels. The new facility would also have outside runs—something the current facility does not provide.
“We wanted a facility large enough to grow into,” Starr said.
The total cost of the project is projected to be $735,000, which includes the cost of the land, manufactured building, hard construction costs including the pipe extension and site preparation, and soft construction costs including architectural services, tap fees and equipment. The land donated by Gunnison County is valued at $350,000.
Starr said P.A.W.S. also plans to make the building green certified. “We want to make the building as green as we can so as to minimize our carbon footprint,” Starr said.
Starr said P.A.W.S. hopes to have the site ready by next summer, and to open it by September.
Council members asked Starr about P.A.W.S.’ operating budget and how it planned to generate revenues. Starr said the task force did not focus on the operating budget but anticipates P.A.W.S. will depend on impound fees as a source of revenue. P.A.W.S. currently does not collect impound fees. Parker said P.A.W.S. should be able to charge and collect impound fees.
Bernholtz told Starr he wanted P.A.W.S. to figure out revenues sooner rather than later because he didn’t want to see P.A.W.S. asking the marshals to start picking up more dogs to raise revenues. P.A.W.S. estimates its operating budget for 2009 to come in just under $9,000.
The next P.A.W.S. meeting will be on Monday, December 3 at the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce at noon. All those interested are invited.

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