With a dig in the dirt and a sigh of relief, construction of the new Bristol Animal Shelter is underway. On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of volunteers, members of the project committee, town councilors, present and former town administrators and others met at the project site off Minturn Farm Road to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony.
The rain held off long enough for the town’s police chief and chairman of the animal shelter project committee, Josue Canario, to welcome the crowd of onlookers and speak briefly about the process that got them to this point.
“We’re at the starting line,” Chief Canario said of the project entering the construction phase.
Behind him, heavy equipment sat on the sand and gravel that had already been unearthed as part of the site work.
“With any luck, we should have some forms and concrete within the next week,” he said.
Chief Canario commended Animal Control Officer Dyanne Gibree and her staff and volunteers for continuing a high quality of care and service for animals brought to a shelter that has deteriorated to the point where it is “kept together with Band-Aids, glue and duct tape.” The cinder block shelter, with tarps draped over its roof to keep the rain out, is a visible reminder of why the project began.
Town Administrator Tony Teixeira appeared relieved that the project was moving forward. “Finally, it’s coming to reality,” he said.
Mr. Teixeira acknowledged former Town Administrator Diane Mederos, who held the office when the project began. “She had to put up with it more than I,” he said of the work that went into the planning stage. “It’s going from good hands to good hands,” he said.
Before those involved in the planning stage picked up a shovel full of dirt that was placed on the asphalt for the ceremony, Chief Canario spoke very optimistically about its future.
“We have a good love of animals. We’ll have an effective, efficient state-of-the-art animal shelter for this community,” Chief Canario said.
On Friday, May 10, the animal shelter capital campaign committee, including Betty Brito, Jennifer Bristol, Deb Coccio, Stan Dimock, Dyanne Gibree, Joan Prescott, Lori Sendroff, Emily Spence and MaryKae Wright, organized a kick-off event to celebrate the construction project and engage supporters.
Now, with the construction officially underway, the fund-raising efforts will also dig in.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, Kristin Brzozowy and her sister Alisha, looked over the renditions of the new shelter. As a Girl Scout, Kristin plans to earn money for the shelter and earn her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Her plan is to organize a talent show and donate the money generated from it to the shelter construction project.
Others familiar with the condition of the shelter will likely by glad to offer their support.
While every donation will help pay for the much needed shelter, those who pledge $2,000 or more may opt to name a particular area or dedicate it as they see fit. Other donations can go toward finishing, fixtures and equipment.
The fund-raising committee set a goal of $350,000, including grants, foundations and corporate contributions.
When the fund-raising committee kicked off its campaign, Chief Canario reassured shelter supporters that the possibilities for amenities and services are endless.
“We’ve downscaled it a bit, but as we raise funds, we’ll plug (amenities) back in. I think people will be happy.”