Cumberland Animal Control finally moving to Lincoln

Cumberland Animal Control finally moving to Lincoln

The newly renamed Blackstone Valley Municipal Animal Shelter in Lincoln.
Hours of operation still up for discussion

LINCOLN – Seven months into a one-year contract to merge animal control services with neighboring Lincoln, Cumberland is making the move this week.

Mayor Jeff Mutter said despite some concerns from Cumberland residents about the agreement reached last August, where Cumberland pays $1,000 per month to share services at 25 Wellington Road in Lincoln, his town will honor the contract. He said he assumed even after coming into office in January that the services had already moved from Martin Street in Cumberland to Lincoln.

Mutter said new Animal Control Officer Jason Stacki showed up in Lincoln on Monday and found the doors locked. There were staff members on the property who let the Cumberland workers in. Animals are also being moved over this week.

“Right now all we’re doing is we’re making sure we’re over there,” said Mutter. “The logistical things will be worked out.”

He said he was surprised to learn of the hours the Lincoln shelter is open to the public, specifically that it’s closed Monday and Tuesday and only open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.

In Cumberland, hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

Mutter said Tuesday he’s still not entirely clear on how the hours are supposed to work, and unclear on whether Cumberland animal control officers will be able to open the Lincoln shelter for additional hours. That issue will need to be hashed out with Lincoln officials over the coming days.

“That’s an unknown to me,” he said. “My feeling would be that we’re open.”

Lincoln Town Administrator Joe Almond said Tuesday that Cumberland will have as much right to the shelter as Lincoln.

“His employees are still his employees,” he said. “If people want hours beyond, we can easily arrange that. We’ll work that out.”

Almond said the one-year agreement reached last August was designed as the opening step of a long-term regionalization agreement with Cumberland. Discussions with Smithfield are also moving along, he said, and he expects an agreement with that town soon.

There were some questions over rules and a “social media flare-up” over Lincoln’s policies, he said, but Mutter now seems “100 percent on board.” Some questions still remain, he said, “but we’ll work all that out.” He said the two town leaders have had some “good active discussions” about keeping services together beyond August.

Lincoln didn’t start charging Cumberland the $1,000 monthly fee until January, said Almond, an allowance given after Lincoln utilized the Cumberland shelter for four months last spring.

Mutter said the important thing is to commence the relationship, as required by contract, and determine how Cumberland will staff the facility. Officials won’t know if the agreement is in “the best interest and viable” for residents “until we’re there,” he said.

On the possibility of an extension beyond the end of August, Mutter said he and others need to learn what they need to do quickly “and make sure we’re all on the same page,” particularly because whatever happens will impact next year’s budget.

On Feb. 12, the Lincoln Town Council passed a resolution naming the Lincoln shelter the Blackstone Valley Municipal Animal Shelter. Almond said new signage is being added as part of the name change.

“Whereas the town of Lincoln has entered into a regionalization agreement with the town of Cumberland and also has an agreement pending with the town of Smithfield to coordinate animal control services, and whereas it is important to change signage directing visitors from both adjoining towns to the animal shelter, therefore, be it resolved that the animal shelter will now be known as the Blackstone Valley Municipal Animal Shelter, and signage will be changed accordingly,” states the resolution.