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Cape Coral animal shelter to break ground on Nov. 1

By Staff | Oct 25, 2018

Cape Coral’s first official animal shelter will hold its formal groundbreaking event Nov. 1.

The gold shovel ceremony will include announcements, photo opportunities and a thank you message to donors.

The 3 p.m. event will feature speeches from Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello; newly-appointed Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno; Shelter board President JoAnn Elardo; Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag; Rick Losee from LAI Construction Management, and Don Koogler from Koogler Homes.

Five years ago, Shelter board President, Elardo asked city officials why Cape Coral didn’t have an animal shelter. And if it weren’t for her, the shelter likely would not have become a reality.

“I’m very excited to finally get our shovels in the ground and start the project,” she said. “If we didn’t have the community behind us, this would have never happened.”

And not only did the shelter come to fruition; it happened quickly.

Although it might not seem quick to other people, Elardo said, adding that, most buildings don’t get built this fast.

The initial shelter is expected to be completed within a year.

The state-of-the-art 7,756-square-foot facility will feature an intake area with the newest dog and cat kennel housing, a reception and adoption center, medical, animal grooming and feeding areas, play yard, laundry space and retail sales for post-adoption products.

The building team is comprised of LAI Construction Management, Inc. as General Contractor and Koogler Homes as Project Manager.

In just two years, Elardo said the shelter secured funding, negotiated a city lease, got designed, “and everything else.”

“You don’t realize how much goes into it,” she said.

Right now, Elardo says everything that goes into building the shelter is a big job.

“Just scraping the ground is big. You don’t realize that unless you do a lot of building.”

Right now, teams are measuring and surveying the area for the building’s footing and working on underground piping. As soon as everything is laid out, Elardo says they will work on the foundation. Next up are the walls, roof, windows and interior.

Rooms, offices and kennels have been laid out, too. There will be 12 air conditioner units and every area must be sealed to protect against pathogens and diseases. Kennel cough, for example, can go right through an entire shelter.

As the city grows, Coviello said the facility will be needed more and more.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it move from the construction phase to the operational phase to when people can use its services and start benefiting from it,” he said.

The shelter is unique because the entire community came together to help make it happen.

“It just seemed to be a project everyone could rally around,” Coviello said. “The reality is who doesn’t like pets?”

“I’ve had several dogs and they become part of the family. The fact that we can bring the community together for such a worthy project and have it here in our city is an opportunity to move a good cause forward,” he said. “And it’s exciting to have many entities involved.”

Coviello says all aspects of the community have helped out including city residents, private businesses and charitable foundations.

When asked if this type of generously is typical for Cape Coral, Coviello didn’t hesitate.

“I do believe that the community at large does what to help when it feels a worthwhile venture taking place. This one was nice and it gave the community the opportunity to help give the city an opportunity to help,” he said. “There was a lot of participation from local private businesses and the project brought everyone together. I think that’s what needed to happen to make this a reality.”

Coviello says the city leased the shelter the property is being built on for $1 a year for 99 years. The city also is covering the shelter’s permitting fees. To put that into perspective, Coviello said anytime you build a structure in Cape Coral, permitting fees can climb up to nearly $55,000.

Despite all the hard work she’s put into the shelter, right now Elardo says she is just focused on getting it built.

“It has been some ride,” she said.

When she finally cuts the ribbon for the shelter’s grand opening, she thinks “That will be the day when I lose my emotions.”

The public is welcome.

The Cape Coral Animal Shelter is located next to Sun Splash Family Waterpark at 325 S.W. Second Avenue.