Following a City Council meeting that didn't end until the wee hours of the morning on June 13, local nonprofit Austin Pets Alive! learned it will stay in its current downtown Austin facility indefinitely. The organization had been slated to vacate the property by May 2015.
Currently, the animal rescue and advocacy group operates from the city-owned Town Lake Animal Center, a building that APA! says, due to to age, needs to be replaced. The property on which TLAC sits, known as Lamar Beach Metro Park, is poised to undergo a city-led revamp due in part to the Pressler Street extension. Also poised to see changes are the YMCA and the West Austin Youth Association, both of which also operate on the land.
In the deal, which is akin to the Long Center agreement, the City will own the building and the land and allow APA! to operate the facility.
During that revamp, APA! will be tasked with raising $10 million for the new building, $1.26 million of which it says it's already received as part of a Maddie's Fund donation. In the deal, which is akin to the Long Center agreement, the City of Austin will continue to own the building and land while allowing APA! to operate the facility. During a City Council work session on June 10, Council Member Mike Martinez (who co-sponsored the resolution to keep APA! downtown) said it was a no-brainer. "We currently don't have the funds for our existing animal shelter, nor do we have staff necessary for our existing animal shelter," Martinez said. 'If Austin Pets Alive! is willing to construct and operate it, why wouldn't we consider that? It would be a tremendous savings."
The unanimous decision is a victory for APA! which, as CultureMap detailed earlier this week, launched an aggressive campaign that even saw Willie Nelson lending his support. But the fight to keep APA! has not been without detractors. Some groups say the parkland should be designed with more recreational facilities, while a few local animal advocacy groups claim the APA! deal wasn't properly vetted. But, as the Austin American-Statesman points out, no one showed up to protest the 2:30 am vote.