DOUG ROSS: A decent proposal for new animal shelter

2013-09-13T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: A decent proposal for new animal shelterBy Doug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

The fur is really flying over the proposal to build an animal shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Does it remind anyone else of the 1993 movie "Indecent Proposal"?

In that movie, Robert Redford's character offers Woody Harrelson's character $1 million for an opportunity to sleep with his wife, played by Demi Moore, for one night. In real life, Porter County Commissioners President John Evans said an anonymous donor has offered $1 million for a new animal shelter at the popular county park.

The difference is in the movie, the offer has nasty consequences for the couple's relationship. The real-life offer for the animal shelter could have good consequences.

There are critics who want the county park to remain exclusively a park and suggest putting the shelter elsewhere. But where?

The county owns land just south of Ind. 130, at Ind. 149. That acquisition dates back to the time the county proposed to extend Ind. 149 south to U.S. 30. It was a good idea, except the soils weren't suitable for the highway extension.

At least one critic has suggested putting the animal shelter there. Sure, it's visible, but it's not as central as the county park. And running utilities to the site could be a bigger challenge.

What about the site of the former Porter County Home? It's also not suitable. That land is too close to a couple of subdivisions, and Valparaiso isn't likely to look kindly on a request to build so close to that many homes.

There's great pressure to build a new animal shelter somewhere in Porter County. The existing facility was outgrown years ago but remains in use today.

Conditions at the shelter aren't what they should be, through no fault of the staff and volunteers there.

Of course, the county's need for a new animal shelter would be lessened if more people spayed and neutered their pets. But that hasn't happened yet.

With added pressure from Portage to possibly accept animals from that city as well, the need for a new shelter couldn't be more clear.

And with an anonymous donor offering $1 million, we're back to that comparison with the movie "Indecent Proposal."

What would the million-dollar gift mean for the animal shelter's future, including its relationship with future park donors? The critics say the land donated for a park should remain a park and not be used for anything else.

What would that $1 million mean for the county's taxpayers, who ultimately would have to pick up the tab if that anonymous donor weren't willing to give the money?

And what would that gift mean for the county's animal lovers, of whom there are many? Don't believe me? Just think of how popular stories about kittens and puppies in peril are with the readers.

Failing to build a new animal shelter is an indecent proposal. Build it at the park and end the months — years, really — of anguish over animal control.

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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