The existing building used by West Hartford Animal Control is at 36 Brixton Street, but a new structure will be built at the corner of Brixton Street and Oakwood Avenue.
By Ronni Newton
The need for a new West Hartford Animal Control facility has been talked about for years, and while initial plans, announced in early 2022, were in the works to rebuild on the same site – although further back from the road – a brand new facility will instead be constructed just up the street at the corner of Brixton Street and Oakwood Avenue, on one of two parcels that the town purchased in the fall of 2022.
Bob Palmer, West Hartford’s director of Plant and Facilities Services, said at a meeting of the Town Council’s Public Works, Facilities, and Sustainability Committee earlier this month that the architect hired to design a new Animal Control is “making really good progress.” At a previous meeting, Palmer had identified Jacunski Humes Architects of Berlin – which has expertise in municipal, public safety, and educational projects – as the firm selected for the design project.
The parcel where the Animal Control facility will be located, with an address of 705 Oakwood Avenue, currently contains the long-vacant Cunningham Supply showroom and warehouse building. The town has hired a firm to demolish that building, Palmer said.
The existing Animal Control facility, at 36 Brixton Street, across from the Public Works Department facilities, is a roughly 1,000 square foot concrete block structure constructed in 1971, and while it was intended to be a dog kennel only, cats and other domestic animals are sometimes also brought there for temporary shelter. The building is located at the very end of Brixton Street, across from the West Hartford Fire Department training facility.
Town Manager Rick Ledwith shared some details about the plans for the new facility, which at 5,500 square feet will be roughly five times larger than the existing structure.
Ledwith told We-Ha.com that the new building will include 10 indoor/outdoor kennels, three isolation kennels, and a cattery. The building will have a complete HVAC system, separate space for food storage and a kitchen for meal preparation, a lobby with a restroom, a grooming and laundry room, and an adoption room. One of the reasons for the relocation of the building to a more prominent location is to make it more accessible to the public who may be coming to pick up their animals or are involved in an adoption.
West Hartford Animal Control is a division of the West Hartford Police Department, and Chief Vernon Riddick regularly includes the division’s activities in his monthly report to the Town Council’s Public Safety Committee. During the month of December, according to the data provided on Jan. 3, Animal Control handled 299 calls, of which 118 were domestic animal complaints and and 16 were complaints related to wildlife. The report indicated that four dogs and six cats were impounded in December. One animal was redeemed by its owner, and five were adopted out during the month, either to a rescue organization or a new home.
Among the reasons cited by the town for the purchase of 705 Oakwood Avenue, as well as 12 Brixton Street, were to free up the property at 36 Brixton Street, as well as the area across Brixton Street currently being used for fire department training, for use by Public Works. Having the additional properties will also provide space for the town to establish fueling operations for town vehicles within the Public Works complex.
The Department of Public Works is in the process of developing plans to create a Materials Solution Center in conjunction with the closing of the landfill at 25 Brixton Street, to meet current and future waste and recycling needs, and incorporating additional space will be an important asset as the town continues to expand and modernize its waste management processes. Public Works is also in need of space to meet the debris removal needs of the community in the event of a large storm. Previously – such as in the aftermath of the October 2011 snowstorm – the roughly 1,100-space parking lot for the former UConn campus at 1700 Asylum Avenue was used, but that is now privately owned and the subject of a proposal for redevelopment.
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