Bristol animal shelter sent back to drawing board

After a year of planning, design and compromise, the Bristol animal shelter project finally went out to bid. The company hired to manage the project, Farrar and Associates, met with the animal shelter capital project committee (CPC) last week to deliver some disappointing, if not unexpected, news.

In order to stay within the $1.5 million construction budget for the shelter, the project needs more planning, design and compromise.

“My main concern is we’re where we thought we’d be. We’re over in all our bids,” said John Lannan, CPC vice chairman. “Are we talking about downsizing this building?” he said.

The committee and Mr. Farrar agreed that, in an effort to move the process forward, the bid specifications may not have provided clear and sufficient details. As a result, some of the bids that were submitted varied by as much as 100-percent for the same work.

Adding to the frustration, the CPC feels that Mr. Freedenfeld may have underestimated actual construction costs of his design.

“If we were told $400 per square foot, this would be done. If we were told $300 we’d have a fighting chance. We were told $200,” Mr. Lannan said. “We’ve been chasing our tails.”

Currently, the shelter design has been scaled down to an approximate 7,000 square foot building, with a $2 million dollar price tag. Site work costs are estimated at another $500,000. Even by eliminating a humane education room that the “Friends” group desire, the construction cost would still be over $1.8 million.

“The gorilla in the room is we’re over on site and we’re over on building. Let’s talk about where we’re going moving forward,” Mr. Lannan said. “How do we bring this across the finish line?”

That discussion will be held at a future CPC meeting where the committee hopes Mr. Freedenfeld will attend.

Not fit for a dog

Animal control officer, Dyanne Gibree, is both concerned with scaling back the features of the new animal shelter and with the degradation of the existing facility. Having already made concessions to meet the budget constraints, she feels that removing more features will alter the shelter’s functionality.

“By removing the functionality, you’re losing the intent,” she said.

The original design that the Friends of the Bristol Animal Shelter group hired Mr. Freedenfeld to draw was an elaborate 18,000 square foot facility.

“What he presented us was what we were looking for,” Ms. Gibree said. ”We don’t feel that the money originally used was wasted. It helped us get the bond issue passed.”

In the meantime, the condition of the current shelter on Minturn Farm Road continues to worsen.

“This building is not going to last, that’s my concern,” Ms. Gibree said. “There’s black soot all around the vents. I don’t know if we should be running our furnace.”

Then there’s the leaky roof.

“That caused one of our lights to blow out,” she said.

In addition, the building continues to settle unevenly, causing it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to use gates for the dog runs and the door to enter and exit the building. The isolation room, designated for sick animals, doubles as an area for kittens and food preparation, creating an unhealthy environment.

“The building we’re in is not going to last. I don’t see us breaking ground this year. We didn’t expect it to take as long as it is.”

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3 Comments

  1. Marina Peterson said:

    Let’s hope that the original budget is adhered to. In these economic times there is no room for “over-budget”. The original Taj Mahal design was probably a little too elaborate and I understand that it has been scaled down. Maybe a good place to cut would be the architectural trimmings. The animals need warm, secure shelter from the elements. They don’t care about the decorations.

    • Melanie Ferreira said:

      Marina, you should attend the next CPC meeting – today at 3:30 in the Town Hall. You’ll see that there are no “architectural trimmings.”

      The shelter design has been gutted to be little more than a large plain box. The architect sold the town a bill of goods about what he could design, just to land the job, and now the town is stuck with a building that my 7 year-old son could have drawn.

      The animals do need warm, secure shelter from the elements. They also need appropriate care – separate intake for dogs and cats (to prevent disease, minimize stress to the new and in-house animals, and to secure animals with behavior issues), proper (and segregated) isolation/quarantine for animals, and appropriate exercise areas.

      The cuts which are being made are KEY FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS – drains to eliminate waste from the dog runs, sinks to wash animals that come in filthy or flea-infested, attic storage, a garage (for secure intake and safety of the ACOs)…

      • Marina Peterson said:

        Melanie, I didn’t not realize that. I stand corrected. I saw the original plans and was astounded at the design. I have owned a construction company and have some idea of the amount of cost gables and architectural trimmings add. Do you think you could get a photo of the new plans and post them on this link? What do you think of the idea of sharing the shelter with Warren and Barrington?

        Yet another case of a job being awarded to a contractor who finds that alas, he cannot perform at the price he committed to?

        Is the construction concrete block, or wood?

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