LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In 2016, the Calcasieu Parish Animal Services and Adoption Center announced a major facility upgrade at their property off Swift Plant Road. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury said it would be completed by 2018.
Three years later, construction hasn’t started yet.
“You know, you think it would be real easy to do this, when in reality, it is a process and it takes time," Nathan Areno, Director of the CPPJ Department of Animal Services & Adoption Center, said. "Things that would seem to take small amounts of time end up taking large amounts of time.”
According to Areno, there have been several hurdles and multiple redesigns.
“I think we are up to 6 architectural renderings at this point on plans and making sure that we have it right because we are not only trying to build a facility for today, but we are actually trying to build something that will extend 25, 30 years down the road.” Areno said. “You have to take into account how big a building to build. A lot of it is the programming inside the building so that you can better serve the needs of an ever-changing animal services demand. I’ve been here over 8 years now, and in those 8 years a lot of the demands today were not in existence 8 years ago. So I think to really build the facility that we need to build it takes a lot of preparation, funding, with economic booms we have had in Southwest Louisiana construction costs are inflated. So you try to be prudent using taxpayer dollars to not just build something, because we do need this really bad. It’s really a matter of building something that my kids and their generation will be able to evolve with. Adoptions is a big part so one of the characteristics of the new facility is being people and adopting friendly.”
$6 million in taxpayer was originally set aside for the new facility and renovation of the current building.
“At this point, I’m not exactly sure what the dollar figure has gotten to be because we are still waiting on final renderings," Areno said. "But I am sure that it will probably be more than $6 million and we try to hold as close to that as we can, but that was 2016.”
Areno says if everything goes according to plan, they will break ground in late 2020, and the construction and renovations should take between 18 and 24 months.
“When you walk in the building it’s going to be kind of an open concept with kind of an animal mall with glass and seeing the animals,” Areno said. “Instead of a seating area, you will be able to peruse the halls and look at the animals. We’ll have adoption wings where you can go down and actually, with the help of an assistant, be able to interact with the dogs. I think it is going to drive a lot of traffic for field trips and hopefully a destination for people looking to add an animal to their life. One of the other things we are going to do that is going to be new is we are going to separate the enforcement side of our business and the adoption side of our business. Right now everything is in one building and so you can have a person who is here on animal cruelty charged sitting next to someone looking to adopt a puppy. So what we will be doing is separating those, keeping enforcement on one side and adoption on the other. I think that will be great for our business and on a lot of fronts.”
The Calcasieu Animal Shelter currently has 243 animals in their care according to Areno.