Evanston City Council to vote on $6.3 million renovation project for Evanston Animal Shelter


Illustration by Catherine Buchaniec

City Council will vote to construct a new animal shelter at $6.3 million.

Aria Wozniak, Reporter

City Council is set to vote on an estimated $6.3 million renovation of the Evanston Animal Shelter on Nov. 14.

The proposal calls for the construction of an entirely new facility. Not all of the funding will come from the city –– two million dollars will be provided by a Cook County grant agreement, and Evanston Animal Shelter Association has committed to raise $1 million. This leaves an estimated $3.3 million for Evanston to provide. 

The current facility is too small, with air conditioning and heating problems that create a suboptimal environment for the dogs and cats, according to the shelter’s Executive Director Vicky Pasenko.

The building’s potential authorization and construction will come later than originally anticipated. Review and approval of the project was delayed after a September Land Commission meeting was canceled –– due to a lack of a quorum. By requirement of the Cook County grant, the shelter is scheduled to be operational by Nov. 30, 2023.

Pasenko said the shelter’s budget will not just finance the construction of the building. Other factors like design, animal relocation, environmentally beneficial materials and soil and toxicity concerns factor into the total cost, she said. 

“I don’t anticipate in any way that the project won’t come through, but the question is the debate around cost,” Pasenko said. “I think that people feel strongly that the climate change component should be there.”

The shelter has committed to reducing its climate footprint. The building will be LEED silver certified which helps to save energy and promotes a more sustainable property. It also intends to remove toxicity from the soil and sediment left in the area from the previous establishments that existed in that space.

“My volunteers are so excited to move into these temporary facilities because they’re so much better than the building that we’re in right now,” Pasenko said. 

Shane Carey, architect and project manager for the project as well as the Public Works Department, said the new facility is addressing issues like clutter in the area and structural instability due to poor soils.

Carey is working to incorporate requirements of the Cook County grant that the facility currently lacks. This includes a wildlife room, which holds injured animals, like deers and pigs, who animal control picks up and can’t deliver to hospitals. 

“(Cook County) wanted to have a space that would be able accommodate (these animals), because there are not many animal shelters that can,” Carey said at the Land Use Commission Meeting on Oct. 12. 

The one-story shelter covers approximately 8,810 square feet and has a kennel, 16 parking spaces and a small loading berth. It will continue its food pantry program, safety net program and custodial program. The programs help to provide food, supplies, short term housing or medical assistance to owners in order to try to prevent them from losing their animals due to financial issues.

The shelter has four full-time employees and around 175 volunteers that work in shifts to provide care to the animals every day, year-round.

Northwestern’s All Paws In club, founded by current president Weinberg junior JoJo Holm, supports the shelter through volunteering and fundraising. The group’s Foster Fair event last spring helped raise $1,700, which will be used to help fund the facility renovation project.

“Something that we’re really excited about both with these interim facilities that the animals will be in and also this new shelter is that we’ll be able to train more volunteers,” Holm said.

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Twitter: @ari_wozz

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