Council niggles over new animal shelter details

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By Jennifer Garcia

During Tuesday night’s county council meeting, Capital Projects Manager and Facilities Director Anne Laurent was in council chambers to make a presentation and request approval of the Animal Shelter Project Schematic Design.

What might have been a vote on the motion turned instead into a long discussion about LEED certification requirements, color schemes and back and forth about whether to install a coyote fence.

One of the major issues of the night came when Laurent announced to councilors that she and her team were able to reduce the square footage of the shelter by over 400 square feet in order to make the building more efficient and pointed out that more enhancements may be added to the building. These enhancements include upgrading kennels from stainless steel to chain link for a longer life system and putting drainage in the outside dog runs.

She went on to explain that the shelter will have 10 kennels and that some of the rooms in the building, such as the break room, will have multi-uses in keeping with the efficiency trend.

“We’ve tried to multi-use every square inch of the building,” Laurent said. Councilors were concerned about the price of the enhancements and that the quality of the building may be jeopardized in an effort to cut square footage.

“These enhancements you talked about, were those included in the public meeting design phase open house,” Councilor Michael Wheeler asked. Laurent said that they were not included at the open house.

“They kind of came up more afterwards because they’re more on a detailed level,” she said. She also told councilors that the enhancements would cost the county $88,000.

Wheeler then went on to ask Laurent and Project Manager Don Russo whether the animal shelter would meet the design standards for downtown in regard to a color scheme for the building, even though the shelter is not located in the downtown area.

Russo told Wheeler that they met some of the requirements with the setbacks and design of the buildings.

“We introduced textures with the coyote fence and the main structure,” Russo said. “We’re looking at lap siding and stucco as part of the body of the building.”

“I understand that it sounds and looks attractive, but would it pass our requirements?” Wheeler pressed.

“I don’t think we meet it on the stone requirements,” Russo responded.

Wheeler then asked Laurent about whether the building could meet LEED requirements.

“There are many points we’d be able to meet,” she said.

Councilor Ken Milder voiced his concern about possibly cutting corners to save money.

“You tried to put a good spin on how positive all these cuts are,” he said. “I’m sure all the functions are there, but that doesn’t mean all the functions are met. I’ve been involved in a lot of county projects and we never learn our lesson. There’s a lot of pandering to the public.

“We say we’re going to cut costs and we end up cutting quality,” he said. “This project has the potential to epitomize that people remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the cost.”

He went on to say that the county cheapened the library and put a roof on it that had to be replaced.

He also pointed out that coyote fences are high maintenance. “I’m sure the contractor will make money on this project if there’s a way they can cut corners, but it will cost us in the long run,” he said.

Councilor Fran Berting said that labor would be more for fencing, and she felt that a stone or cement wall would be a better substitute for the coyote fence. “It requires a lot of maintenance,” she said.

Discussion then switched gears and focused on whether to put a 30-year roof on the shelter right away, as opposed to a 10-year roof that would have to be replaced sooner.

Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson said that he was wondering about what tradeoffs had been made in regard to life cycle costs. “It sounds like in a number of places we’ve opted to keep the capital cost down at the potential expense of greater life cycle costs,” he said.

Councilor Jim West said that it appeared as if council was repeating some of their past mistakes in trying to “go cheap to solve the problem today without looking down the road.

“We do a good job of solving the problems today,” West said. “I’m more concerned with solving our problems so they stay solved longer.”

He said that he would like for council to do the job and do it right.

After more discussion, the motion to approve the animal shelter schematic design was passed 7-0.