Council declines shelter land purchase, sends back to Animal Services Board

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Ascension Parish Council voted 7-4 to ask the Animal Services Board to continue searching for a location for a new animal shelter, declining a proposal to purchase land along North Burnside Avenue in Gonzales.

The council discussed the potential purchase of the property at 12472 N. Burnside Ave. for $550,000 during the Feb. 16 meeting in Gonzales.

The location, north of Airline Highway and just south of Cannon Road near the Lowe's home improvement store, is in a central area of the parish that handles a high volume of traffic.

The board has engaged Shelter Planners of America and received a needs assessment and conceptual design plan to assist in finding the best site and design for the shelter, according to a news release from October 2022.

Earlier in the day, a parish government news release announced a public information meeting set for Feb. 28 at the governmental complex to discuss the new shelter with a representative from Shelter Planners of America, Michael Barnard.

Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension, a 501c3 nonprofit shelter known as CARA's House, has outgrown its location along Airline Highway in Sorrento over the years. An open intake shelter, the crew takes in nearly 3,000 animals every year, according to its website.

The shelter operation has been funded by a one-mill property tax, which has been collected since 2019. The tax generates around $1.32 million every year.

Chair Chase Melancon speaks during the previous Ascension Parish Council meeting held Feb. 2 at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

Executive Administrator Ruth Phillips told the council potential sites have been sought after for three years and all have failed for various reasons.

She said the parish does not own any property that would be suitable for a shelter.

Due to an agreement with the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center's foundation, a shelter is not considered an acceptable use of the property, Phillips confirmed.

Chair Chase Melancon said he was flabbergasted when he found out that the parish owns the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center but has a contract that allows the foundation's board to decide on its use.

Clean-up day planned

In another matter, the parish will partner with waste management company Trash Rangers to assist with a clean-up day on the west bank March 4.

Dustin Clouatre, who owns the company, said dumpsters will be put out around unincorporated areas of the west side, including Modeste, Lemannville, McCall, Palo Alto, and at Mt. Olive church along River Road.

No hazardous waste and no tires will be accepted.

Parish government will advertise further details at a later date.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.