Northampton to hear from neighbors on proposed animal control kennel

  • Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne LaBarge will be holding a meeting with Mayor David Narkewicz at the site of a potential animal control kennel off of Glendale Road.

  • Northampton police Department, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 4/30/2019 11:39:54 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Neighbors will have a chance to sound off Wednesday at a proposed site for an animal control kennel, which the city has appropriated nearly $400,000 to build.

“We have only had preliminary discussions,” Mayor David Narkewicz said.

The site is off Glendale Road, on land currently owned by the planned Waggin’ Trails Dog Park. Narkewicz said that the half-acre parcel is up an access road, and is almost 300 feet away from Glendale Road.

The kennel is intended to provide temporary housing for animals picked up by police or the animal control officer until their ownership can be determined.

The public meeting will take place at the proposed site at 6 p.m. Notices were sent out to residences on Glendale Road, Brisson Drive and Park Hill Road Extension.

Some people, including Glendale Road resident Rose McCoy, are not happy with the idea.

“I don’t think the city should be buying land for a kennel,” said McCoy.

She pointed to the city having its own land, and specifically cited the landfill as the appropriate site.

“They can put it on their own land,” she said.

Meanwhile, McCoy’s daughter, Marlene Pearson, who also has a residence on Glendale Road, expressed opposition to the kennel project in its entirety, particularly when money is being sought for the educational system.

“We have other priorities in Northampton,” Pearson said.

Narkewicz said that Sarah Schatz, owner of Waggin’ Trails, indicated to the city that she had available land, and Schatz said that she’s been having conversations with the city on and off for the last two years.

In 2017, $395,000 was appropriated to build an animal control kennel. Currently, the city contracts with Amherst for overnights for dogs that the city’s animal control officer, Shayla Howe, picks up in her hours, while dogs picked up outside of this are housed overnight at the Northampton Police Station in a kennel there.

The kennel would be able to house dogs, cats and other animals.

“This is not a public facility,” said Narkewicz, who also said that it will not be for long-term stays and would not be a source of traffic.

Narkewicz that in 2018 the city facilitated 1,334 overnight stays for dogs.

Narkewicz said the city has, “looked exhaustively for city-owned property,” for the kennel, but has had difficulties finding a suitable site.

Narkewicz said he reached out to Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne LaBarge about the Glendale Road site, and she asked that a public forum be held.

“I trust and respect her judgment and that’s why we are having that meeting,” Narkewicz said.

“I couldn’t give him an answer,” said LaBarge, on her thoughts on the project.

LaBarge did tell the Gazette, however, that she does have concerns about who will take care of the animals at night, and that she would like the city to look at areas that belong to the city, including the landfill and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. And she said that she feels uncomfortable with the kennel being located in a residential area, and brought up the potential for heavy barking.

“I have concerns here,” she said.

Narkewicz said that while the landfill has been looked at, sites there were impractical because of the cost of running utilities up to them. He also said that when he reached out to Smith Vocational, school officials said there was no space for it.

The mayor said the Glendale Road site could utilize the utilities that will be run to the dog park, although he said that the city would have its own meter and would only pay for what it uses.

He said that while it will be audio- and video-monitored at all times, the kennel will not be staffed around the clock, and that dogs would be kept in individual kennels overnight.

As for the kennel and education spending, Narkewicz said that the kennel is a capital expense and that if it were not built money for it would go to another capital project.

Narkewicz said that, if the parcel is purchased, the money may come from the appropriation for the kennel, or from another source.

Schatz said that should she sell the property, “I won’t be selling it for very much money at all.”

She gave a police presence at the site as a bonus, and said that the facility is necessary.

“Northampton has needed something like this,” Schatz said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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