Multiple options being considered on regional animal shelter

Multiple options being considered on regional animal shelter

The Lincoln Animal Shelter could soon be a regional home for animal control services, with both Smithfield and Cumberland among the potential partners. (Breeze Photo by Robert Emerson)

Officials from multiple communities are now in talks with Smithfield town officials concerning the potential of partnering on a regional animal shelter.

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi says he’s hoping new Town Manager Randy Rossi chooses to join North Providence and Johnston on a planned tri-community shelter in his town.

Meanwhile, Cumberland Mayor Bill Murray and Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond are courting Rossi to be part of a three-community shelter in Lincoln, where officials are planning a major expansion and renovation of the existing facility on Wellington Road.

Rossi confirmed this week that Smithfield officials “are in discussions with both collaborative efforts,” but said no decision has been made yet.

“We are currently looking over the finances, location, operations and overall review of the two projects,” he said. “They are two great options with great partners to work with.”

Murray, during a Town Council meeting last week, told council members that officials are moving slowly on needed repairs to the Cumberland shelter because of a possible partnership with Lincoln.

“It’s going to be, in Lincoln, a very regional type operation,” he said.

Murray said he and Almond are pursuing a regionalized shelter in part because of a host of new Rhode Island regulations for shelters. For example, where wires between dog runs were previously acceptable, new rules are requiring full cement between the runs, he said.

Volunteers at the Cumberland shelter would likely be merged into the Lincoln shelter, said Murray.

Lombardi said Monday that he’s aware of Lincoln’s interest in luring Smithfield, but said he believes a tri-town partnership with North Providence and Johnston is the best option for the neighboring community.

“We think we have the best situation for them,” he said, noting that Smithfield is “only about 200 feet away.”

If Smithfield chooses to partner with Lincoln and Cumberland, “that’s OK,” said Lombardi.

Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond said he could not speak for Cumberland’s Town Council members or Mayor Murray, but said he is confident Cumberland will move forward with a decision to combine the two animal shelters as one.

“Once Lincoln’s renovation is completed we hope to finalize an agreement with Cumberland to provide consolidated shelter services between the two communities,” he said. “Then, depending on joint capacity (population) and remaining available space, we have been in early talks with other neighboring communities with low populations.”

The architectural design and price estimate associated with the shelter expansion are forthcoming, and bids are expected to go out in about two weeks, said Almond. Because it’s a renovation, the season/time of year doesn’t impact the construction plans much, he said, but there is no timeline determined yet.

During construction, Lincoln’s animals may have to be temporarily relocated to another shelter such as the facility in Cumberland. How long they’re at the temporary location will depend on how work goes, said Almond.

The Lincoln administrator said the animal population count at the Lincoln facility averages about six to seven dogs at one time, though the animal count is sometimes lower. When and if Cumberland regionalizes and joins Lincoln’s animal shelter, Almond said officials will be able to determine if the population count allows enough room for another, smaller community to become a third partner.