The Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Board of Trustees tonight voted unanimously to approve building an animal control facility for the city on its campus. The city no longer plans to construct the facility at the site of the former Moose Lodge at 196 Cooke Ave.

Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra worked with the elected trustees and administrators of Smith School in recent weeks to reach agreement on building the animal control facility in space that previously was unavailable. The decision also coincides with the school’s plan to expand its animal science program.

I appreciate the mayor and Smith School officials working together to approve this more ideal location for the animal control facility. This is a win-win-win solution because it addresses a long-identified need for the city, provides an educational opportunity for Smith School students, and responds to concerns raised by residents of Pines Edge and Cooke Avenue who objected to having the animal control facility near their homes.

Northampton has long sought a site for a facility to shelter animals, primarily dogs, that have been separated from their owners. The City Council on March 3 voted 8-1 to appropriate $100,000 to buy the former Moose Lodge property at 196 Cooke Ave.

The city now plans to demolish the former Moose Lodge and seek a partner to build up to four housing units (with at least some classified as affordable) on that property. It also will continue to provide access to the Broad Brook Fitzgerald Lake conservation trails, with limited parking.