The new animal shelter facility is planned to be located on Highway 61 South on the lot next to Mid-South Lumber. At a press conference held on Thursday morning, South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour presented the results of a study conducted on the location.
“Phase two was all about figuring out the cost and design of the facility,” Monsour said. “We’ve got the right design, a location that was donated and we know the cost range on the project.”
The building to be used for the new facility was graciously donated to the City of Vicksburg by Earnest Thomas before his death.
The top of the line facility is expected to cost close to $1 million dollars with the estimated cost range to be from $993,000 to $1.4 million. The 10,000 square foot facility will be able to house many more animals and meet all the qualifiers animal advocates had proposed for the community. It will also offer a special area to visit the animals.
Monsour went on to praise animal activists and advocate Marilyn Terry’s efforts. “She is a great advocate of animals in the City of Vicksburg. Her forward-thinking on this project led us to the right group to design this facility. She recommended Shelter Planners of America to help us locate and design this project.”
The outdated facility on Old Mill Road in the Kings Community has been plagued for years with flooding and flash flooding and the aging unit continues to struggle with the volume of animals that come through there. Currently, the facility can only house 18 dogs and 39 smaller animals and has maxed out its capacity several times this year.
Shelter director Kacie Lindsey has hopes for a centrally located facility that can house more animals, provide a quarantine area for sick animals along with a separate intake area for processing new animals and to have it all under one roof.
Monsour studied the current laws and ordinances in the city related to residents owning animals. “There are many parts of the ordinance we don’t enforce, like the $2 annual fee to house an animal, $4 if it’s not neutered,” explained Monsour. “There is also an ordinance that no one can own more than 5 animals within city limits. But, at the end of the day, we’re not going to change any of the ordinances right now. We’re going to focus on getting a proper facility.”
Animal advocates have been pushing for years to build a new facility. Earlier this year, Mayor George Flaggs excused himself from any involvement with the planning of the new facility after animal advocates held a meeting the night of his inauguration. “They scheduled their meeting at the exact time we are being installed into office. That is the most disrespectful thing that’s been done to me in my 31 years in public office,” complained Flaggs in a story by the Vicksburg Daily News on June 30.
North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield has been working to find a location for a new shelter over several years. In January of 2020, Mayfield was leaning towards a property near Sky Farm but that project never materialized.
Monsour concluded by announcing that a vote to approve the facility and move to the next phase will be held at Friday’s board meeting. If the votes are in favor of the facility, the dialogue between the City and project designer can begin. Once the design is finalized with a cost estimate, advertising for contractors can begin.
The process “usually about 45 days between advertising and awarding a contract,” stated Community Development Director Jeff Richardson. “Generally speaking, once the contract is awarded you got 15 to 30 days for the contractor and the architect, in this case, to do insurance, bonds, contracts and get all legal things down.”
View the televised press conference below: