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Publish Date: 10/28/2005

Jim is scratched behind his ear last Friday at the Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road. With plans to expand, the Longmont Humane Society will be a 36,500-square-foot facility, increasing the shelter’s space by 75 percent, with the addition of a glass-enclosed adoption corridor, larger kennels, and enhanced heating and cooling. Times-Call/Lewis Geyer

The Cat’s Meow
Longmont Humane Society is given $5M

LONGMONT — A New York woman has donated $5 million to the Longmont Humane Society, empowering the animal shelter to construct a state-of-the-art facility.

Though the gift far exceeds the original goal to raise $3.5 million, board members said fundraising must continue.

Shelter officials and architect Phil Pokorny of Richmond, Va., announced the donation and unveiled revised plans of the expanded facility, which will remain at 9595 Nelson Road, to campaign supporters during a luncheon Thursday at the Radisson Conference Center.

The new 36,500-square-foot center will increase the shelter’s space by 75 percent with the addition of a glass-enclosed adoption corridor, larger kennels, enhanced heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and curved architectural complements to the Longmont Humane Society’s existing concrete dome.

The revised plans will cost $8.2 million.

“Whether you like (the dome) or not, it’s the signature building of the Longmont Humane Society,” Pokorny said. “We couldn’t ignore that, so we’ve kind of adopted the phrase ‘Embrace the dome’ by respecting the previous building.”

When the shelter learned of the $5 million gift in September, it had already collected about half of its $3.5 million goal and had design plans from Boulder firm Gates Hafen and Cochrane.

Pokorny will now head the project. The layout details are “a work in progress,” said Linda Tyler, executive director of the Longmont Humane Society.

Shelter spokesman Michael Helmstetter said the donor, Susan Allen of Southampton, N.Y., didn’t want her gift to overshadow or stymie the community’s donations to the shelter, which will be called the Longmont Humane Society Allen Center.

Helmstetter said a groundbreaking is scheduled for next fall, and the project is slated to open in the spring of 2008.

Under the new plans, the shelter still must raise $626,000. Helmstetter said the community phase of the capital campaign will begin in January.

“Every donation is important, no matter how small it is,” Tyler said.

She also said the city remains committed to its $1 million pledge to the project, kicking in $250,000 a year through 2008. Allen believes it’s important for the city to follow through with that pledge and that residents continue to donate to the capital campaign, Tyler said.

Attorney Cameron Grant of Longmont, who is handling the $5 million donation, said Allen owns property southwest of Longmont and has a daughter who lives in Boulder County.

Allen met with shelter officials last year about the possibility of making a donation of some kind, Tyler said.

Grant and Pokorny both said Allen doesn’t want her gift to be all about the size of the donation. The first-time philanthropist prefers the focus to be on the well-being of the animals.

Pokorny, who has known Allen for 12 years, said she and the Longmont shelter staff shared the same philosophy for animal care.

He called the meeting “a fateful connection.”

“She was impressed by the job (the shelter employees) were doing, but she saw the challenges put on them by the facility and ... by the budget,” he said.

Pokorny said Allen asked him to design a facility for the Longmont Humane Society that would improve the shelter environment for the animals and the adoption experience for pet owners.

Pokorny had designed homes in Boulder, Niwot, Louisville, Lafayette and LoDo, but never a facility like this.

“She said, ‘That’s exactly why I want you,’” Pokorny said. “She didn’t want any preconceived notions about what the shelter should be. She wanted someone open to her vision.”

Together, the pair researched pet-adoption programs, toured facilities and interviewed pet owners about “the good and the bad” of animal shelters around the country.

From that, they gleaned the plans for the Allen Center that will serve as a model for animal shelters, Pokorny said.

“This is a quantum leap for the Humane Society,” Grant said.

The Longmont Humane Society Allen Center

Design features unique to the new shelter plan include:

• A 75 percent increase in the size of the expansion. Including the dome renovation, the resulting facility will measure 36,500 square feet.

• Enhanced adoption lobby — to create a more inviting atmosphere for the general public.

• Addition of adoption promenade — a free-flow circulation glass corridor, the promenade invites adoptive families to browse the pets on their own time without the direct assistance of a staff member.

• An interior glass wall around the adoption areas allows the public to visit closely with the animals while providing comfort, security and disease control for the animals’ safety.

• An exterior glass wall perimeter — encourages after-hours “window shopping” to easily observe adoptable animals. Shelter animals have a view to the outside, promoting stress relief and mental stimulation.

• Larger dog kennels — for comfort and to provide a more natural environment.

• Addition of small dog and puppy features — to service the specific needs of each.

• Individual de-centralized service facilities — for food storage, food preparation and laundry located in the center of each animal grouping.

• Enhanced architectural integration of the dome — celebrates the dome as a recognizable landmark image of the Longmont Humane Society.

• Inclusion of the latest mechanical systems — for heating, cooling and ventilating to prevent spread of disease in a shelter facility. Also keeps animal odors away from the lobby and viewing areas to enhance the adoption experience.

• Civic pride — this building will prove its worth over the years. It will save animals, build families and become a source of civic pride for the Longmont community.

Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at msidwell@times-call.com.



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