Fair Lawn’s newly renovated animal pound is ready to take in new critters, and with increased capacity at the site it soon hopes to start accepting out-of-town guests as well.
The building, originally constructed in 1950 and not renovated in the 60 years following, had numerous deficiencies when the state inspected it last year. And the promise of attracting shared service agreements with other towns was a catalyst to improve the facility rather than giving up on the pound entirely.
The renovations made to the building included raising the roof, rebuilding walls and fencing, and upgrading the plumbing and lighting. New kennels were added to increase capacity, and Fair Lawn DPW director Ron Conte says the added room has already made an impact. The borough was able to pick up and shelter about 10 cats during Hurricane Sandy, something they would not have been able to do before.
And, he adds, the project was done at minimal expense by using borough labor and resources, such as replacing the pound’s lights with those from defunct trailers at Memorial Park.
“Nothing was purchased new in here, it was all stuff we had in-house and in storage. And we took it from Peter to put up in Paul.”
“It cut down on a lot of costs,” he added.
The cost of the whole project came in at around $35,000, according to borough officials—a bit north of the $25,000 projection given to Patch at the beginning of construction in August. But funds came from the animal trust fund, the collection of pet–related licensing fees and fines that the borough sets aside for these kinds of expenses.
More work will be done to the pound, such as electricity and air conditioning upgrades, but the building is ready for use. “We did everything we needed to do, and so far we’re set,” Conte said.
The next step will be finalizing the shared service agreements that provided the motivation to maintain a borough-run animal control program in the first place. Borough Manager Tom Metzler says that he’s reached out to Elmwood Park, Saddle Brook, Garfield, Lodi, and Hawthorne.
The agreements will be based on a per diem, per resident charge for the towns involved, as well as a schedule of fees for the maintenance of individual animals still to be reviewed by the borough council.
Fair Lawn has put its offers out, Metzler said, and now it’s a matter of waiting to see who bites. “We’ve made offers...At some point they’ll make a decision on whether it’s beneficial to them to have us take it over.”