By Jeff Gallatin

Bay Village

Citizens and city officials hope to start building a solid foundation in the next few weeks for where and when a new Bay Village animal shelter and kennel will be built.

City Council President Brian Cruse said Monday he still expects discussion about the new shelter to begin as part of the work on the upcoming 2012 municipal budget.

“It certainly will be a part of the budget discussions as they get under way the next few weeks,” he said. “We haven’t set an exact date yet, but it will be a part of that.”

Members of the Friends of Bay Village Kennel spoke at the Oct. 3 City Council meeting, noting that the group has raised sufficient funds to completely pay for construction of a new facility. The old kennel shelter located in the City Service Center area has to be demolished as part of the construction work of a vehicle salt washing facility near the old salt storage building. Cruse said at the meeting he expected the kennel issue to come up in the city budget discussions in the next few weeks. Mayor Debbie Sutherland expressed similar sentiments.

Members of the kennel friends group presented council with two petitions with 2,428 signatures on the subject, while also urging council and the administration to reconsider eliminating the animal control officer’s position. That job was cut during the summer while city officials worked on ways to trim the municipal budget to combat the continued sluggish economy. Sutherland outsourced much of the position’s responsibilities to Cuyahoga County.

Tom Kauker from the kennel group read a letter to council about the animal kennel. He noted that while the group was working in the last year to raise awareness of the kennel and issues pertaining to it, they found that many people weren’t aware of its existence.

In the letter, group members urged city officials to move quickly since the demolition of the old shelter is getting closer. They noted previous discussions with city officials in which a new shelter was tentatively slated for at or near the police station on Wolf Road.

“We are now at a point, and because time is waning before our existing kennel is destroyed, where serious further conversation can be held to determine the scope of the project, its cost and a time frame for design and the completion of construction,” the group said in the letter.

In addition to meeting the construction funding needs, the group also indicated that several citizens have offered their services on a pro-bono basis to take care of the design and engineering work as well as current and future service needs at the kennel.

City officials said that previous funds given to the city for use at the shelter remain unspent and are in place for use at a new shelter.

Animal advocate Nancy Brown, who operates the Hot Diggity Dog business, continued her advocacy for the shelter while again urging the city to move away from using county animal services and to use a city animal control officer.

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