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Llodra Confirms $2.3 Million For Animal Facility, Dog Park, Operations

Llodra Confirms $2.3 Million For Animal Facility, Dog Park, Operations

By Kendra Bobowick

& John Voket

First Selectman Pat Llodra announced Monday that a bequest from two late residents, friends and animal lovers, will enable the town to complete construction on a new animal control facility, as well as setting up an annual fund to underwrite operations.

The bequest will also include an additional infusion of cash to complete and outfit a planned dog park.

Mrs Llodra told the Board of Selectmen May 21 that attorneys for the estates of Frances Hair and Hazel Bouchard asked her for a list including everything the town would need to complete the construction and outfit the new animal control facility, to maintain its operations including costs for supplemental consultants like trainers and veterinarians, and to ready an adjacent dog park for opening.

“We identified every single item we were unable to purchase for this facility, and they have accepted all of that,” Mrs Llodra said. The news was met with an audible whistle of approval from Public Works Director Fred Hurley, who was on hand for other business, and who has been overseeing construction on the dual projects on the west side of the Fairfield Hills campus.

Town Director of Finance Robert Tait previously told The Bee that the money could have gone for a new facility, if one was not built yet, but since a new pound is almost ready to open, he said this week the balance will “support the new shelter above and beyond the budget.”

Costs for veterinary care and supplies are among other uses for the funds, including “anything to do with cats and dogs,” he confirmed. According to the bequest, the money is to be used for “the benefit of animals, in particular, cats and dogs.”

Mrs Llodra said the attorneys for the Hair and Bouchard estates were very interested in hearing more about the planned dog park, and determined an extra $171,368 would be set aside specifically to get the park open as soon as possible.

“It’s a happy day for Park and Rec, isn’t it,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Amy Mangold. And, “It’s good timing.” A recent Strutt Your Mutt fundraiser drew a large crowd of volunteers including Friends of Park and Bark, dog park committee members, dog park supporters, and pet owners eager to see a new leash-free environment.

The fundraising volunteers “worked so hard, it’s such a happy day,” said Ms Mangold. “How wonderful that the funding is here. It’s wonderful that we can see these improvements become a reality.” Ms Mangold paid special recognition to Assistant Director of Recreation RoseAnn Reggiano for her dedication. “She has been the connection with Friends of Park and Bark and Parks and Recreation to raise the funds, organize the events, and raise awareness.”

Again stressing the number of people who have turned out in past years to support the proposed dog park, she said, “This park will fill such a need and a benefit to the community.”

The initial goal to pay for fencing and to open the park was $50,000. Plans were to continue to raise funds and work toward enhancements in the future. “But now we can do the whole park. It will be a beautiful park,” Ms Mangold said.

Above and beyond the fencing, additional funds from the trust will pay for completing the dog park with enhancements that could include shade structures, water fountains, benches, signs, a bulletin board, trash receptacles, hitching posts, agility structures, a spray pad for dogs to keep cool, trash bag dispenser, and a dog wash.

The enhancements would make the dog park as user-friendly as possible, Mrs Llodra said.

The amount designated to complete the animal control headquarters is $785,848, and there will be a separate fund of $1,385,000 that will be distributed in gradually increasing annual increments starting at $50,000. That installment will increase by three percent each year going forward until the fund is retired.

Up to an additional $10,000 can also be tapped from that fund annually to provide education for students, trips to the dog park, and the care of pets, according to Mr Tait.

Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason said she was “absolutely” happy to learn about a $2 million bequest to the town on behalf of animal welfare.

“With that money we will have a trainer working with them,” she added. Dogs often need time to settle in at a new home, she said. “When dogs are adopted out, they’re hesitant and nervous and have things to work out.”

To have funds for training and helping the dogs acclimate to new homes leaves her “ thrilled,” Ms Mason said. “It’s a lot of money and a good thing. I am happy for the animals, the dogs and the cats. Hopefully this will make it easier on the town.”

After the town budget failed during the second referendum on May 15, she is aware, “We have to keep the budget down, so this is a relief.”

Frances Hair was 98 when she died in April 2008. The widow of Val Hair, she had been a resident of Sandy Hook for more than 30 years at the time of her death. She was owner and operator, with her late husband, of the former Pine View Nursing Home in Monroe.

Hazel Bouchard died this past January. She was 78, and had long been the proprietor of Hazel’s Liquor Store, which was located on Route 25 at the Monroe town line.

Both women have been laid to rest at Newtown Village Cemetery