A lesser-known impact of the ongoing expansion and upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant at Society Turn is the need for a new regional animal shelter, which has historically been housed near the plant. Telluride Chief Marshal Jim Kolar explained authorities vacated the Society Turn space in early May during an intergovernmental meeting Monday afternoon in Telluride. Since then, there have been talks with the Animal Hospital of Telluride in Ilium and Ridgway’s Second Chance Humane Society about contracting services, Kolar explained.
“It’s been a long drawn-out process,” he said.
The animal hospital would need to upgrade its cage and quarantine spaces, according to a state inspection July 1, which hasn’t been done yet, Kolar explained. He added he plans to follow-up on the progress and potential of working with the animal hospital.
“They’re extremely busy down there,” he added.
Second Chance “is more than willing” to accommodate animal holding needs, Kolar said, adding the shelter already has a contract with Ouray County authorities. The San Miguel Veterinary Clinic in Norwood could also be an option. Building a brand new animal shelter in Telluride “doesn’t make sense,” Kolar said, given that the number of animal holds has decreased drastically recently. In 2018, the marshal’s office had 65 incidents, while the Mountain Village Police Department and San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office had less than a dozen total. In the past, it would typically be well over 100 incidents, according to Kolar. Plus, he added, if a dog does end up at the shelter, it’s usually not there for more than a couple days. Typically, it’s someone’s pet that wanders away and is picked up quickly.
“It’s been pretty rare that we have an abandoned animal that needs to be put up for adoption,” he said.
Kolar and local elected officials talked about transport time if authorities decide to work with either the Ridgway or Norwood shelter; both would take an hour-plus.
“That’s been a main concern, that you’re out a peace officer for three hours,” Moutain Village Mayor Laila Benetiz said.
Kolar said he would have a code enforcement officer handle transporting because he wouldn’t want to take a sworn officer out of town whenever they’re on duty. Code enforcement already handles off-leash and defecation citations. Mountain Village and county authorities may also be able to help out with any potential animal transportation needs.
There is no timeline for contracting services, according to Kolar.
Amy Levek, Trust for Community Housing executive director, presented the results of a recent study, “The Impacts of Affordable Housing on the Telluride Area Economy and Community,” Monday. The organization worked with the Telluride Tourism Board in conducting an employer survey in Telluride and Mountain Village. According to the results, 59 percent of employers cited the lack of affordable housing for potential employees a “critical” or “serious” problem for their business last year. Seventeen percent of area employees left their jobs due to housing problems. Losing employees is costly, as employers spent an average of $5,200 per employee to fill open positions, according to the survey. Last year, area employers spent $4.3 million in recruiting and hiring new employees. The response rate of 18 percent represented 44 percent of area employees, Levek said.
Elected officials agreed that affordable housing is an ongoing regional issue, as each governmental entity continually works to build more. There have been 85 deed-restricted housing units and a 46-person boarding house built in the area over the past two years. There are plans to create up to 99 additional units in the works.
“Recent projects, though, are not enough,” Levek said. “The needs assessment identified the need for 400 units in 2018, with another 300-350 units by 2026. … So the conclusion is we need more housing. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone.”
The Telluride Foundation and tourism board provided grants and funding for the study, which was prepared by California’s WSW Consulting Inc with help from RRC Associates LLC of Boulder.
For more information about the trust, visit trustforcommunityhousing.org.