The Tyler Regional Animal Control Shelter - better known as TRACS - on Sullivan Avenue is a step closer to becoming a reality, as the South Windsor Town Council last Monday approved a service-sharing agreement with East Hartford and Manchester.
Both Manchester and South Windsor have approved the agreement, with East Hartford’s decision still pending. Each participating town will pay a fee for the animals housed at the facility and make an annual contribution to a capital improvement fund, South Windsor Town Manager Matthew Galligan said.
The agreement was approved in South Windsor in an 8-1 vote, with Town Councilor Kevin McCann serving as the lone dissenter.
McCann wanted to include language in the agreement that would have had Manchester and East Hartford compensate South Windsor for having the land and the building in town.
Galligan explained that TRACS’ building was renovated through a $500,000 grant that was obtained by Manchester. East Hartford, however, was not providing an up-front capital or resources to the project.
“It’s regional cooperation,” Galligan said.
“I’m all for regional cooperation,” McCann said, adding that he wanted to ensure that South Windsor was “fairly compensated” for providing the land and the building, which is located at an old firehouse at 124 Sullivan Ave.
“East Hartford is getting a free ride here,” McCann said.
While Galligan said that East Hartford was not contributing anything up front, there may be a time when South Windsor needs something from its neighboring town.
“It’s all about relationships,” Galligan said.
Town Councilor Cary Prague also pointed out that in 10 or 20 years, if a larger facility is required by the three towns, South Windsor will wind up with a renovated building.
“That’s a good thing,” Prague said.
In an e-mail, Chief of Police Matthew Reed, who has overseen the renovation of TRACS, agreed.
“I know there were some on our town council that wanted the Town to be compensated for the use of the property and the building, but the way I look at it, we are being compensated,” Reed said. “We no longer have to pay an annual fee to another entity to house our animals and at the end of the 10 years we still own the property and all of the subsequent improvements. If for some reason the Town decides to move the shelter to another location, the Town has the opportunity to use the 124 Sullivan Ave. property for another purpose or even sell it. …
“If we sold the property now who knows what would be there; a fast food restaurant, a gas station, an empty field, a parking lot or an abandoned building; and we would still have to find a site to put our animals. With this arrangement we retain full control of the property and the appearance of the property. Sullivan Avenue is a main thoroughfare and this facility will be one of the best looking pieces of property folks see when they come into town.”
Reed said that he “hopes the new regional animal care facility will be open within a few weeks.”
The kennels, which Reed calls “the most significant portion of the new shelter,” were delivered and installed about two weeks ago.
“This project has been contemplated for nearly twenty years,” Reed said. “To see the shelter finally become a reality is very satisfying and provides the towns involved with a long-term solution to the animal sheltering mandate.”
Reed said that Connecticut law requires each town to provide an animal care facility for stray dogs or to join with other communities in providing such a facility.
The chief executive from the three towns - in South Windsor’s case, Galligan - will appoint a representative to serve on the facility’s governing board. The property and facility will remain under the ownership and control of the Town of South Windsor.
The shelter is named in honor of Gary K. Tyler, who served South Windsor as police chief from 1987 until 2010. He died in 2011. Tyler, according to Reed, was a staunch advocate of regionalized police services. He envisioned a regional dispatch center, regional jail and regional animal control facility.