Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas wants the city to seek loans of $1.116 million to construct a new animal shelter and $3.55 million to upgrade Attleboro High School's athletic complex. More than 100 people were at City Hall Tuesday night to tell the City Council they support the proposals.
Public hearings took place Tuesday on the two loan requests as well as a third one for $1.523 million to upgrade a municipal water treatment plant computer system. The council heard from several proponents, no opponents and one person who said he was concerned about the price of the animal shelter, but stressed he was not against the project.
Kim Penque, president of the Friends of the Attleboro Animal Shelter, spoke about various planned features for the new facility that she said would protect the health and well-being of the animals. She said this includes air purification systems, separate quarantine areas, centralized cleaning and sanitation systems, larger kennels, adequate space for socialization, separate adoption rooms for families to meet animals as well as proper lighting and security
"We're not seeking to build the Taj Mahal, as we've heard," Penque said. "We are simply seeking to build a shelter that is adequate for our needs today and that will fully function for our community tomorrow."
Penque read the names of approximately 90 people who were in attendance that supported the project, but chose not to speak so the hearing would not continue into early Wednesday. The council did hear from several other project advocates, including former Councilor Roxanne Houghton.
Among the features of the athletic complex upgrade are replacing the deteriorated track and changing the grass field to a synthetic surface. The track is in such a bad condition that Attleboro High has been unable to host meets for several years.
"Our student athletes at Attleboro High School have endured without a track and with an athletic field that is limited in usage," said Dennis Walsh, the city's recreation director as well as a parent of current and former Attleboro High athletes. "For years now, our kids have salivated when visiting other schools with updated facilities."
The council also heard from project advocates affiliated with the school district such as Attleboro High principal Bill Runey and School Committee member Chris O'Neil as well as those associated with local youth sports programs that use the high school facility and the Special Olympics, which wants to return to the school.
The councilors kept mostly quiet during the public hearings. A few asked clarifying questions and they applauded on occasion. They will speak, probably in-depth, next Tuesday when the panel votes on the funding requests.