Autiello hopes for animal shelter work by spring

Autiello hopes for animal shelter work by spring

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town Council President Dino Autiello, chairman of the North Providence Animal Shelter Committee, says he’s fairly confident after the committee’s first meeting back following a two-year hiatus that the town can get a shovel in the ground on a new shelter by next spring.

Though some members of the committee last week were talking numbers of $1 million or even up to $2 million, Autiello and Mayor Charles Lombardi are still focused on the estimated price tag of $600,000 for the shelter, half paid for by the neighboring town of Johnston, which shares the existing facility, and most or all of the rest paid for through the Police Department’s 2012 winnings from a Google settlement.

A Nov. 5 meeting of the Animal Shelter Committee included new members and six people who volunteer their time at the shelter, among others.

Lombardi said he assured Autiello and the committee that the town will provide busing for members to go visit other shelters. He said he found the first meeting of the committee to be very profitable.

“We’ll see where it goes,” said the mayor.

Though there are a lot of ideas being thrown around for the shelter, said Lombardi, he wants to remain careful with how funds are spent and believes the town can get a very nice shelter for $600,000.

One idea was to possibly move the shelter to a new location, said Autiello, an outcome he said he doesn’t foresee happening. Lombardi also said he’s reluctant about any plan to move the shelter, saying he doesn’t see the need to do so.

The committee is planning to meet again on Nov. 25, said Autiello. Tours of other shelters, including facilities in Pawtucket, Bristol and Westerly, will occur before that meeting.

The newer Westerly shelter is viewed as the most comparable to what North Providence is trying to achieve, according to local officials. Committee members cited Pawtucket’s placement of its shelter in Slater Park as one reason why North Providence might choose to move its own shelter to a new location.

Autiello and others are aware of the issues that have plagued the Pawtucket shelter since it opened 11 years ago, including an inefficient heating system and crumbling roof, but still think they can get ideas for North Providence’s shelter with a tour.

The contribution from Johnston could come in the form of a long-term lease, said Autiello.

The chairman said the committee generally feels that bids submitted for shelter design work when the committee previously met two years ago are now obsolete. He said he’ll leave it up to the committee how to proceed on whether to seek new proposals, but said there’s so much expertise now on the committee, that “we can almost design it on our own” and take out the cost of having a firm do the work.

The committee’s work over the coming weeks will be to determine exactly what would work and what wouldn’t work for the facility near the town’s new solar facility on Smithfield Road.

Autiello, an animal lover who adopted rescue dogs himself, said he completely understands why Lombardi and others wanted to wait until after a new safety complex and new schools were completed before focusing on a new shelter.