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Bentonville animal shelter ceremony set

by Mike Jones | May 24, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- The city of Bentonville doesn't have an animal shelter, but plans are well underway for two future facilities.

Mercedes Brink, who adopted two stray cats she found at her Bentonville apartment complex, said she's amazed two shelters are in the works, "but I am sure the need is there." Brink said she knew the surrounding communities had shelters and Bentonville didn't.

"And that surprised me," she said.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Best Friends Animal Society's shelter will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to an event invitation.

The Kanab, Utah-based organization announced a regional pet resource center in December 2019. Plans for the center received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission in January.

"We're looking forward to kicking off construction on the Best Friends Pet Resource Center," said Jackie Roach, senior manager of Northwest Arkansas lifesaving programs for Best Friends. "I think it will be a source of pride for our area that will elevate animal welfare, not only in the region, but also the country."

The Walton Family Foundation provided an $892,500 grant for architectural design and engineering of the center, according to a news release.

The center will offer complementary programs to local and regional animal service organizations and sheltering services, it read.

Plans show an approximately 12,000-square-foot building at 1312 Melissa Drive. The site is a little more than six acres near the 8th Street Gateway Park.

The society's adoption fees are $40 for cats and $100 for dogs. More details on specific programming and fees will be announced closer to when the Bentonville center opens, said Hannah Stember, Best Friends public relations manager.

Philanthropic support from foundations, corporate partners and donors will fund the center's development and at least one year of operating costs. Specifics about funding will be released at the groundbreaking, Stember said.

The plan is for the pet resource center to be open in summer 2022, Roach said.

The city's Pet Resource and Services Steering Committee spent more than a year working on plans for a shelter and proposed in 2019 Best Friends operate it.

The tentative plan was for the Walton Family Foundation, Best Friends, the city and public fundraising to pay to build an $8 to $10 million building, although no entity committed any money.

Construction is expected to start this summer on the city's animal services shelter, billed as a one-stop shop for all pet-related needs, said David Wright, Parks and Recreation Department director.

Wright said he wants to have a bid award request before the City Council in June and he expects construction to take about nine months. The site is a triangle-shaped property at the intersection of Southwest I and Southwest 41st streets, Wright said.

Plans call for a 6,500-square-foot building. Construction cost is estimated between $2.7 and $3.1 million, he said. The money will come from the city's general fund.

The city pays $7,000 per month to Centerton for animal services and $100 for each dog taken to the Centerton shelter. Centerton's City Council recently approved an 18-month extension to the contract.

If the Bentonville shelter is completed before the conclusion of the contract, the city must give Centerton 60 days' notice to terminate the agreement, the contract read.

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