While long miles are ahead in the quest for a new animal shelter, the Frankfort City Commission’s unanimous approval Monday of a free long-term lease of land to the Franklin County Humane Society was a step — or pawprint, as the case may be — in the right direction.

Located on Sower Boulevard, the city-owned land will be leased for at least 50 years with the option to renew and is a corner piece for a new animal shelter — a puzzle the Humane Society has been trying to solve for years.

At 50 years old, the current facility on Kentucky Avenue is in a flood plain and regularly sustains water damage.

According to FCHS President Sam Marcus, in the past fiscal year the Humane Society spent more than $25,000 on repairs — an expense that could have gone toward caring for the 1,800-2,000 animals housed at the shelter each year.

Despite clearing the first hurdle, commissioners remained hesitant about committing the $1.1 million the Humane Society has requested from the city to build the animal shelter without knowing whether Franklin County will put up the $1.3 million FCHS has sought from the fiscal court. However, both entities are reluctant to designate the funding due to tight budgets, compliments of an increase in pension contributions.

The Humane Society would need to raise the remaining amount of the estimated $4.9 million cost of a new facility. Though, even with the land in hand, FCHS can’t begin its fundraising efforts in earnest until it knows exactly how much its goal needs to be.

“We’ve committed to taking our plan as envisioned and control costs in any way that we can,” Marcus told city leaders Monday evening. “We hope at the end of the process a funding commitment from both entities will be forthcoming.”

The city is still trying to iron out the details on the funding issue, but we commend the mayor and commissioners for a positive start in what will be more of a marathon than a sprint.

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