By Jeanne Starmack
New Castle, Pa.
The executive director of a pet-rescue group is hoping city council will approve the group’s request for a no-kill shelter.
The city planning commission indicated at its meeting Sept. 7 that it could not pass the plan without additional information on it.
Susan Papa, director of Promises for Pets, asked the commission then to recommend denial of the plan to build the shelter at 508 Harbor St., the site of an old excavating business.
Papa said she did so because she wanted the request to go before the city council, which makes the final decision on whether the shelter can be built.
The group’s shelter site is 13.8 acres, and there aren’t many homes on the street, Papa said.
But neighbors from nearby Bell and McCleary streets came to the meeting to object to the plan. They are afraid of noise, loose dogs and unattended dogs in their neighborhoods, Papa said.
“We’re building a state-of-the-art facility,” Papa contended. “You might want to go to our park on a summer evening.”
The group plans a 6,000-square-foot building, a dog park that anyone can use and a veterinarian’s clinic. Papa said the group would even like to offer emergency vet services at its clinic.
The Harbor Street land, which the group has purchased for $65,000, is not the first site chosen for the shelter.
The organization, which houses homeless animals in foster homes, had two other sites picked out over the past two years.
The first site was 20 acres near Lockley Elementary School. But a revelation that the city school district might use eminent domain to take some or all of the property for an expansion at the school caused the group to reconsider.
The second site, in Hickory Township, was rejected because the group discovered there were contaminants in the soil from an old landfill there.
The group exercised an option to back out of buying that property five months ago.
Papa says the group would like to build its shelter in the city, because that’s where most of the problems with animal homelessness are.
She also said it’s hard to find acreage for sale now outside the city, because landowners are keeping it in hopes of cashing in on Marcellus Shale drilling.
She said that if the city council rejects the proposal, the group could file an appeal with the Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.