Last night Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen was the speaker at the June meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation. His Presentation was on efforts to replace the Beach's Animal Shelter, an often-discussed issue this Spring.
Hansen stated that if Virginia Beach doesn't build a state-of-the-art new facility, we'll regret it in subsequent years. Shelters should be inviting places that you should want to go to, and should make you feel warm upon arrival. When Cuyahoga County built their new facility, visits shot up 78% and volunteers jumped from 6 to 165.
The sticking point is funding. Hansen wanted the CCO to spearhead a fundraising effort to raise money to build a state-of-the-art facility. He noted both the Virginia Aquarium and the Sandler Center are partially supported by private foundations. In addition, last week Armada/Hoffler submitted an unsolicited PPEA offer to help with constructing a new shelter, which would seek donated building supplies while offering construction labor at cost. Hansen, who has three cats (dogs rule!), stated only 10-12% of pets in Virginia Beach are licensed. All license revenue goes to the Animal Shelter.
Critics had a couple problems with Hansen's stance:
1. With other recent City spending projects (i.e. Town Center Phase IV, Norfolk Southern Right-Of-Way, Laskin Gateway Project) going forward, why is the community being asked to pass the hat for an Animal Shelter?
2. How much influence is Armada/Hoffler buying with the City? They already have the Town Center partnership, and are one of two finalists for the convention center headquarters hotel.
Building a new state-of-the-art shelter would require at least 3-4 acres. Sketches of the proposed building were shown. The site preferred by Staff is adjacent to the Doylestown neighborhood, southwest of the I-264/Lynnhaven Parkway intersection. The runner-up is next to the current SPCA facility. (As it would require removing soccer fields, as a former high school soccer player, want to know what you can do with that idea?)
One resident asked about retrofitting an existing building. Hansen said "a dozen" had been looked at, but none lent themselves to such a purpose.
Dave Hansen was asked how the cause would be publicized. He noted me sitting in the second row, and wanted a blog story. Okay, Dave, you have it, but next time I want something much juicier than an Animal Shelter.