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Commissioners approve new animal shelter at airport

Applause rang out as the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved a site at DeKalb Peachtree Airport June 25 as the location to build the county’s new animal shelter.

The seats were filled and walls lined with attendees wearing red and green T-shirts; mostly members of Advocates for DeKalb Animals (red) and the Friends of Johns Homestead Park (green).

“Well, it’s not over until a new shelter is built but at least we’ll be able to sleep tonight,” said Sonali Saindane, chair of the DeKalb Animal Services Advisory Board.

The $2.75 million facility will be built using bond proceeds.

DeKalb Peachtree Airport (PDK), located in Chamblee, is owned and operated by the county under federal guidance and is funded through the revenue it brings in. The county would have to pay the Federal Department of Aviation for the site over a period of several years.

Saindane was a member of the 2011 committee appointed by CEO Burrell Ellis to survey locations for the new facility and recommend a site to commissioners. It proposed a list of 12 locations, selected from more than 80 potential sites.

In February 2012, the committee completed its study and recommended the PDK site as its first choice. However, commissioners were concerned with its location and created a task force to review the sites selected.

After reviewing the sites, the task force presented three final locations to commissioners. One of those sites was the PDK site and the other two, a used car lot and the Johns Homestead (JH) Park property, are located off Lawrenceville Highway.

In 2004, commissioners purchased the JH location with park bonds money. Although the site at JH would have been approximately $1 million cheaper, only Commissioner Elaine Boyer favored it.

“It would be a destination park that we don’t have in this area and I think it’s a win-win for all the constituents,” Boyer said. Boyer also suggested building walking trails and a dog park at the site.

However, many residents and advocates disagreed and stated that the 46-acre parcel of land is one of DeKalb County’s remaining historic green spaces. Built in the early 1800s, the Johns Homestead area was a working farm until the 1980s.

Resident Gretchen Gibbs said Boyer’s idea for the JH was nothing more than a “dream.” She said the PDK site is the one that “is supported by thousands of DeKalb’s residents.”

“There are huge legal issues with parks bonds that could be tied up in court for many years,” Gibbs said. “Being there will probably end up with a lawsuit.”

Wardell Castles, a member of Advocates for DeKalb Animals, said the group is happy with the board of commissioners’ vote.

“We look forward to seeing the timeline for a new shelter at PDK and working with the County to track the progress against the timeline,” Castles said.

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13 Comments

  1. Martha Williams says:

    As a DeKalb resident, and more opportantly a huge animal rights supporter, I don’t think I would have been happier even if I had won the lottery – in a way I think the county and most especially the animals did win the lottery. I know that there is a lot of work to do but this is a HUGE victory. I hope all the remaining tasks involved with building the shelter will be without conflict.

  2. Wardell Castles says:

    I believe we should ask the CEO’s office as to why it takes 9 months before construction starts. Due to the urgency and need for a new shelter, can this project be fast-tracked?

  3. B. Davis says:

    Thank you to all the commissioners who voted for the PDK site and thank you Commissioner Boyer for your vision. Unfortunately, building on Johns Homestead would not have been a win/win, because of legal, environmental and neighborhood issues.

    Those of us who long to see a new day in DeKalb for animals in our care are pleased that we do not face years of litigation and the dismay of our fellow constituents.

    Advocating for a new shelter for ten plus years is exhausting and we hope that the wonderful Johns Homestead volunteers will help us get the shelter built! We need lots of positive support and participation.

    We respectfully ask that the CEO keep his promise to begin construction this year. We are fully supportive and willing to help.

    Next month, LifeLine Animal Project takes over shelter management. Let’s get the shelter built so they can do the great work they were hired to do!

  4. Sue Kautz says:

    I am hoping all the animal advocates and lovers stay involved to see this new shelter through to fruition now that the best site has been chosen. Thank you to each and every one of you that has been part of this team!! We still have a long way to go and need to follow benchmarks for the shelter construction. ” it ain’t over till its over!” Stay tuned!!

  5. Millie Banks says:

    This has been a long and slow process but I think that being there together week after week, getting to meet others with a common interest at the BOC has bonded us together. For me it has been a special time to meet and get acquainted wth others that share the same goal. I’m looking forward to working with everyone so that we can help make a better life for those poor, unfortunate souls that have been so shamelessly discarded.

  6. Linda Mc Tucker says:

    It was a huge win for both the animal advocates and the Johns Homestead Park supporters. As a long time animal lover and also a resident of Tucker, within walking distance from the Johns Homestead site, it was a double win for us in my opinion. While I certainly understood Commissioner Boyer’s desire to combine that green space with a much needed animal shelter and include a dog park etc., it would never have flown due to justifiable neighborhood opposition.

    I agree we should not have to wait 9 months to start! I wonder if there is any pressure that can be brought to bear as well.

  7. M. Garcia says:

    Thank you to the BOC for making the right decision on the site of choice for abandoned animals of Dekalb County. Starting construction of the shelter this year would definitely optimize the benefits that will be achieved and will keep all of us loyal and happy.

    Thanks again! Together we’ll make a dream come true.

  8. Dianne Carter says:

    My thanks to all of Commissioners for their support of the building of the new shelter and for their majority vote for the PDK site on June 25th. This was a VERY exciting and long-awaited day.

    Our mission has just begun. Let’s follow to be sure that the CEO’s office keeps its promise to begin construction this year and complete it in 2014. A new timeline has been issued which shows a 9-month period before construction can even begin (I don’t know why) and to be completed in March 2015 instead of the 2014 date, as promised. I’m hoping that the county can speed up this process so that the animals will not continue to languish in filth, stench and a very uncomfortable environment.

  9. N Stokes says:

    As an animal lover and a music teacher, I can’t help but think of the old song by the Carpenters, “Bless the Beasts and the Children….for in this world they have no voice…they have no choice. Well, we’ve given those poor animals a voice, and now hopefully we can build this shelter as soon as possible and give them a healthy and happy place to live. Thanks to all the commissioners who have made this dream possible. And a special thanks to Barbara Davis and all those who helped her in their tireless efforts.

  10. Leslie Parker says:

    Thank you to all the people who worked to make the new Dekalb Animal Service Shelter a reality. I hope DeKalb County can find a way to start the construction sooner than expected. Those of us who volunteer at the Shelter know all too well how desperately the new shelter is needed. There are so many of us in the community who will help – in the transition and once the Shelter is a reality. There are also many communities across the country who have constructed no-kill shelters in record time, which shelters are now places of hope and pride. I hope the Commissioners and the people who might read this will also take the time to come to the Shelter and help in any way they can. (You are required to sign up as a volunteer if you wish to do this.) The animals truly are so grateful to see people and to be taken on walks. And, the experience is so very rewarding for the volunteer. No, it’s not a great place to be, but it’s not about us….it’s about the animals. Once you are there and you are taking a very happy animal for a walk, you will forget about everything but what this means to the animal. It’s quite amazing. Maybe we can help these animals be less scared and alone. Thank you.

  11. Chase Crowson says:

    I’m beside myself with excitement. This is such wonderful news, that the animals are finally on track to have a shelter without the awful conditions they’ve had to live (and die) in for years. Thanks to the board for reaching this decision!

    I echo others’ requests to please make sure the shelter gets built this year. The faster we get this up and running, under the wonderful care of Lifeline, the fewer animals have to suffer. Let’s please continue making progress to make Dekalb County a respectable and humane community to live in!

  12. throw the bums out says:

    I believe that you can judge a peoples by the way they care for those persons around them and the animals in their care.

    This same Board of Commissioners placed their Free Lunches, many from Ted’s Montans Grill above the needs of DeKalbs, Meals on Wheels Program for the Elderly and Disabled. They used tax dollars to provide themselves Free Lunches during work days.

    How many jobs did you have hat provided you free lunches from Ted’s Montana Grill ? I love Ted’s but I do not approve of Politicians feeding themselves at my expense and Every Elected Official in this country, almost all are cleaning our plow when it comes to Free Lunches.

    These same Board of Commissioners put their Free Lunches before any Programs for Our Youth here in DeKalb. And look at the troubles that DeKalb is having with it’s young people ? My God Peoples.

    In fact not only does this same sorry Board of Commissioners put themselves before ever other concern in this county they chose to slaughter thousands of dogs every year in DeKalb for decades. PETA in my opinion allowed these things to fester and grow while listening to the lies of this sorry Board of Commissioners. These are people that will lie to you. (stan watson ring a bell)

    How much longer are the citizens of DeKalb County going to put up with and support the sorry fools that govern this county and you can include North DeKalb Republicans in that group also. Do think that DeKalb County has ended up in this toilet without the help of North DeKalb Republicans.

    East and South DeKalb are producing the most sorry of thugs and criminals leaving no one safe anywhere in DeKalb while the Number One Priority of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners is feeding their already overweight selves.

  13. Glenn Morris says:

    Very Unhappy with the PDK Animal Shelter site decision.;
    Tucker residents pushed it on our side of town –
    DeKalb Board of Commissioners has once again ignored
    the neighborhoods near PDK ;which have increasing noise pollution issues- and now more traffic and environmental issues related to an unwanted shelter in our backyard.

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