Animal shelter buys land for future facility
The Rifle Animal Shelter cleared a significant hurdle in its quest to build a new facility, which officials said is desperately needed.
Earlier this month, the nonprofit purchased land that will house the future shelter, as well as provide for other opportunities. The potential for other opportunities is due to the fact that the shelter ended up purchasing more land than it had hoped to at one time.
Rifle City Council approved an annexation last November that brought 4 acres directly north of Rifle High School into the city’s boundaries. Annexation was vital for allowing the future site, which will need utilities and other amenities associated with being located in city limits, said Heather Mullen, executive director of the shelter. The goal was to purchase the 4 acres after annexation was completed.
However, several complications — including the inability to obtain a boundary line adjustment needed to split the plot from a larger parcel of land — resulted in the shelter buying both the 4 acres and another 18 acres at a cost of $95,000 and $260,000, according to Mullen.
The result was a change from the hoped for plans but in no way a deal breaker or setback, she added. The search process has been ongoing for years now, and the shelter was originally prepared to spend $350,000 for new land.
Throughout the search for property, the current building has continued to deteriorate — further heightening the need.
“We are barely holding it together,” Mullen said of the shelter’s current home. “It’s like every time we turn around something is falling apart or breaking.”
Aside from the state of the building, the shelter is regularly at its capacity of 15 dogs and 15 cats.
While the need for a new facility has only increased, the search for property was difficult, and Mullen admitted the chance of finding suitable land that the shelter could afford felt, at times, fairly bleak.
Originally the shelter had looked at buying the entire parcel, rather than just the 4 acres.
“It was in the price range we were envisioning we would have to pay, so it’s not a huge hit for us,” Mullen said. “Overall, we’re just very excited to have the property … “
An added benefit of the location is its proximity to the current shelter. When a new shelter is eventually built, people will not have to search very hard to find it.
“We’re really excited,” Mullen said. “It’s a huge, huge step that we’ve been dreaming up for a long time, and it’s going to continue to allow us to make a difference in the lives of shelter animals.”
Due to the need to secure more funding for construction, Mullen said realistically it will likely be two years before a new facility is completed.
In the more immediate future, she said the hope is that construction on the driveway and utilities, such as water and electricity, will start in the next several months. During that same time period, the shelter intends to start the planning process for fundraising and designing the new shelter.
As for the additional 18 acres purchased, Mullen said there are no immediate plans for the land, which is still outside of the city limits. It could be turned into an open space for people to walk their dog, or the shelter could ultimately decide to sell it in the future. Regardless of what the shelter decides to do down the road, Mullen said the added land is an asset and the shelter personnel and supporters are happy to have cleared this hurdle.
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