Currently, animal control is provided by a joint program of Sullivan County, Bluff City and Kingsport, known as SBK Animal Center.
It operates two aging facilities, one off Idle Hour Road in Kingsport and the other in Blountville.
A new facility isn’t the only improvement in the works: Bristol, Tenn., city officials appear to be ready to join the effort, according to presentations to the county commission. And the nonprofit will rebrand itself as “PETworks: Regional Animal Services” and leave behind the term “animal shelter” for “pet adoption center.”
The new facility’s proposed site is three parcels of land along East Stone Drive/Highway 11-W just east of Cleek Road — between Clayton Homes and Kingsport Used Tires. Excluding floodplain portions of the three parcels, the total usable space to build the facility is about three acres, according to information given to commissioners. The city of Kingsport already owns one of the lots and will contribute it as the city’s portion of the site acquisition (valued at $88,000). Sullivan County is being asked to provide $75,000 to purchase lot #2. Lot #3 will be another $75,000 — which is expected to be funded by the city of Bristol, Tenn., ($30,000), Bluff City ($1,000), $14,000 from SBK’s reserve fund and $30,000 from other contributions. The $288,000 total for site acquisition includes $50,000 for site evaluation funded by One Kingsport.
The need for a new facility was outlined after a joint examination of current animal services conducted last year by the County Technical Assistance Service and the Municipal Technical Assistance Service — taxpayer-supported state agencies that provide guidance to local governments, counties and cities, respectively.
A copy of that report distributed to county commissioners states that the two facilities now used by SBK are “woefully inadequate” and both are in need of “extensive repair.” It goes on to say that even if repairs are made, SBK would be left with two separate facilities, “neither of which is a modern, well-designed, customer-oriented and animal-friendly facility” and “the operation of two facilities is quite inefficient.”
To date, the proposal to provide the $75,000 for site acquisition has gained the endorsement of two of the Sullivan County Commission’s three primary committees.
Some commissioners from the “upper end” of the county have questioned the proposed site of the new facility, stating it will be too far away from residents in Bristol and the county’s east end.
A graphic given to commissioners, however, notes that the location: is on the far eastern edge of Kingsport (about 6.4 miles from downtown), and the Kingsport area accounts for about 123,000 of the residents to be served by the facility; would be about a 15-minute drive from Blountville (about 10.4 miles); and about 20 minutes from Bristol (about 12.5 miles), and the Bristol area accounts for 85,400 of the residents to be served by the facility.
The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.