HERMITAGE — After a couple years of planning and development, officials with the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter are ready to move forward with some designs and eventually lay the groundwork for their new building.

At their latest meeting Thursday evening, the animal shelter’s board of directors unanimously voted to enter into a contract with Copich Architects of Youngstown as the architect for their new building and to begin Phase One — site preparation for a new building.

Serving as the chair of the board’s building committee, Ron Viglio of Wheatland, said Copich Architects, who specializes in animal shelters, had previously done some schematics and mockups of the proposed animal shelter to give the board and potential donors an idea of what the building would look like.

Following the board’s latest meeting, Copich Architects could begin coming up with more exact designs and blueprints for the new animal shelter, along with determining what work needs to be done to prepare the ground for construction, Viglio said.

“I’m very excited, I feel the board is very excited, and it feels like we’re starting to make progress,” Viglio said.

The new building will be located on five acres of land on Lynnwood Drive in Hermitage, near the Tails of Hope Spay and Neuter Clinic. The land was donated in April of 2019 by the Shenango Valley Foundation.

When visiting the property with building committee members Louis Squatrito and Frank Connelly, Viglio said there were two sites recommended by Copich Architects for the new building.

The committee ultimately decided to place the building on a site closer to Lynnwood Drive, as the other site was set further back in the property and was near a gas line, along with other potential topography issues, Viglio said.

Board President Duane Piccirilli said hiring the architect and having the land prepared would be a huge step toward ultimately having their new building. A sign could be placed on the site this spring and a public event could also be held to mark the occasion, he said.

Having served on the building committee, Squatrito said he was also excited to be moving on to the next phase of the project. Viglio likewise said he was glad to see the project “getting some traction” but that shelter officials would continue to move forward carefully with the project.

“It’s taken time and it’s gonna take time, but we don’t want to just build something overnight — the board wants to make sure it’s done properly,” Viglio said.

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