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Despite Fundraising, Steward Says New Animal Shelter 4 Years Away

Animal Shelter Committee Officially Receives $35k Donation, But First Selectman Said Animal Shelter Will Not Be Built Until At Least 2016

Wednesday, Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk announced on his Facebook page that the had officially received $34,390.97

This was good news, Yuchniuk wrote, because the group had already raised $42,864.73. With the new addition, the amount was up to $77,255.70, just $22,744.30 from the $100,000 goal the town told them to raise to build a new animal shelter, he said.

But in an interview with First Selectman Dan Steward shortly thereafter, he said no such goal exists. The town will not build a new animal shelter , and it might not even happen then, regardless of the amount of money the committee raises for a new animal shelter.

“It’s not going to change,” said Steward of the 2016 time frame. “Once we get past the financing of the schools, then we can start talking about it.”

Atherton died in 2011 and left half of his estate to the animal shelter. That money just cleared through probate court, and has been donated to the animal shelter committee, Yuchniuk said.

The cost of a new animal shelter has been estimated at around $500,000.

Steward’s Plan

Steward wants the animal shelter committee to use the funds it has raised to fix the pressing needs of the shelter. For example, the heating system is inadequate and the electrical system needs an upgrade, he said.

“They have to identify those costs, and I’m not so sure that has happened yet,” Steward said. “I believe they have raised enough money to fix those problems.”

Steward said in 2016, there will be no more added bonding costs associated with building five new schools. Then, maybe more capital projects can be added, but there are other more pressing projects than an animal shelter, such as a new building for public works, he said.

Yuchniuk, when contacted Wednesday, said the committee was working under an assumption that if the group raised $100,000, there would be a push for a new animal shelter, and the money raised would be used on a new shelter. He said that whatever the real situation is, he would continue to fundraise.

“I’m just going to stay positive and keep raising money, to do what is best for the animals,” Yuchniuk said.

The committee has a poster of a thermometer going to $100,000 as the amount of money they were trying to raise, which is filled to the amount it has raised, now $77,255.70. The group has been saying for months that if they raised $100,000, the town would support them in building a new animal shelter.

Terry April 12, 2012 at 11:11 AM
That is rude. I thought the shelter would be built too if the $100,000 was raised. 2016 is way too long. Maybe some Waterford and East Lyme residents can donate some of their time, materials and expertise to build a new shelter. Good luck! Thank you Robert for your hard work!!
The Sabilia's April 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM
With all due respect to the officer and his efforts on the animals behalf, I still don't understand why Waterford did not join in a more regional plan proposed several years ago. I agree with Selectman Steward, we have many other pressing matters in town.
John Sheehan April 12, 2012 at 01:53 PM
It is my understanding that the regional plan failed because of some requirements of the then Humane Society Board that the towns were not willing to agree to and neither side would move from those positions. Waterford was part of those negotiations and would have participated if the regional plan had succeeded. Unfortunately, time ran out and other towns such as Norwich and Groton built their own shelters.
OM13 April 12, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Pressing need to build a new public works building? How about the animal shelter that is in need of replacement, or the Oswegatchie Firehouse which is being held up by shoring.
Carol Guarco Myers April 12, 2012 at 02:00 PM
The animal shelter is a need. Is Dan Steward just someone who doesn't care for animals? That's really the feeling I get. And really....a new public works building? Talk about millions.
Ann Moore April 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I think Mr. Steward didn't think we would be able to raise the money so quickly. Now he's back tracking. I realize the schools should be considered first but his attitude toward the shelter is off putting.... Maybe the local Lowes and Home depot would be willing to donate toward a new shelter. Then we would just need volunteers to help build it, like the Amish people do.
Kym Apicelli April 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I am a supporter of Dan’s and leave this comment trying to be as respectful as possible.... however. I am very disappointed. Terry- I like your suggestion. So many Waterford/EL residents, including myself, were willing to donate money to this NECISSARY cause... I am sure there are people willing to donate their time and efforts to help build the shelter. 2016 is a long ways away and the animal shelter is a whole in the wall. I will be even more disappointed if my donation has to go to fixing up the shelter as opposed to building a new one. With all of that said- How did this miss communication happen? Was someone misleading (I like Ann Moores theory) or was this really a miss-communication?
Edna Silva April 12, 2012 at 08:59 PM
He was a farmer and thinks animals belong in the pasture and outside. We will never get this shelter. I think there should be a vote.
deborah graffeo April 13, 2012 at 02:48 AM
This is just soooo typical. Waterford ACC didn't ask for anything. They are raising the money on their own, but the town selectman says there won't be a new shelter built regardless of how much money is raised!!! HELLOOOO, it isn't coming out of the taxes! If you want a better image Mr. Steward, I suggest you butt out of what you know NOTHING about!!! I also want to address those that think there are "more pressing matters in town". I agree that if you know nothing about what is involved in caring for animals at a shelter regardless of their circumstances (lost and found or tossed aside by society), you would think that it is a low on the totum pole cause. But for those of us that make a life out of helping and saving animals that someone else has tossed to the curb, it is an extremely important cause. One that we took a stand for and are raising the funds without the help from your taxes! I suggest you take some notes and do the same when it comes to the "more important matters in town" that are important to you. You want something done, take a stand, raise the funds and get it done! Hopefully, when you reach your fundraising goals, no one will be there at the finish line reneging on the promise they made to your cause.
Diane Amburn April 13, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I never realized how many animal lovers there were, until I started going down to New London daily, to feed some of the cats that were left homeless. The location where I go, some individuals built a very sturdy and warm shelter for the cats, in addition to other housing. In fact, the two shelters stood up to the hurricane back in 2011. Going down there everyday now for the past 1-1/2 years, has really been spiritual for me, and I now see things and people in a different light. I also see wildlife at the location. And the fact that the wildlife and the cats get along so well, amazes me. What amazes me the most is, how little animals have, and just how much humans have. As far as the fate of the future new Wtfd./East Lyme shelter goes, it will happen, regardless of whether or not the towns of Waterford or East Lyme help financially. This is due to the DEEP UNSELFISH LOVE for animals that some people have.
farm guy April 23, 2012 at 06:19 PM
How about building a shelter for the homeless PEOPLE.
Gloria September 16, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Karma is a b*tch: Just don't re-elect First Selectman Dan Steward. If he went back on his word once, he will do it again.

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