Ground may be broken in 2-3 months on new Wash. Co./JC Animal Shelter

Gary B. Gray • Aug 7, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Animal Control Board members exuded a sense of confidence Tuesday regarding the coming start of construction on the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter that has not appeared in such a relaxed, informed and cognizant form in some time.

The city’s recent $1.5 million commitment is the key. At this point, ground on the first phase of the shelter could be broken within two to three months. The entire first phase, which is estimated to cost about $1.9 million, includes what city commissioners consider to be at least the equivalent of the office and kennel space at the existing shelter.

“This includes the basic structure, about 5,000 square feet of office space, 9,000 square feet of kennel space, site work and architectural fees,” said Johnson City Mayor and board member Ralph Van Brocklin.”

The new shelter will be located on a vacant 6.6-acre lot at 3411 N. Roan St.

Van Brocklin also announced that a person has made a firm commitment to donate $100,000 and that another sizeable donation was likely forthcoming. The name will “probably” be announced within the next month, he said.

The second phase includes an additional 5,000 square feet of office space, 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of additional kennel space off the back of the building, a spay and neuter clinic for which $50,000 has been donated for equipment, a possible meeting space and rooms for guests considering adoption.

Now a bit more comfortable, having secured an “anchor” donor and the large commitment from the city, board members discussed the further utilization of North Carolina-based Dickerson, Bakker and Associates -- the professional fundraising group brought on to find the high-dollar donors.

The 10-member fundraising committee — a group separate from the company — meets today, and Van Brocklin said they will discuss how much longer they intend to keep paying the company $5,000 per month plus expenses for their services.

“The things going on, and the matter of them getting paid is a matter to be considered,” Van Brocklin said.

He added that Gary Taylor, the boots-on-the-ground person for the company “has been quiet of late.”

When the board engaged the company, there was no hint of a $1.5 million donation from the city in addition to the $350,000 it chipped in to help purchase the property. There also was no big donors who had actually committed at the time.

Additional funds for the first phase would come from the board’s construction fund and the remaining funds committed by Washington County.

Still, Van Brocklin said he would prefer to keep them on, perhaps until the end of the year, unless the fundraising committee felt comfortable they could take things from here. In that case, he said he would come back to next month’s board meeting and relay the committees’ desire.

“Unless there’s a change by the first of next year, we ought to be trying to get rid of that expense,” said County Commissioner and board member Pat Wolfe.

Meanwhile, Van Brocklin reported that architect Thomas Weems has taken a critical look at the site and determined there are no significant problems. Stormwater costs are expected to boost site preparation to an estimated $350,000.

An engineers’ field report conducted in January 2012 shows the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter site contains an active stream that runs through the property in a buried culvert and that past grading has placed 20-year-old fill soil and rock from a nearby road construction over the majority of the site at a depth of about 15 feet.

Weems did not attend the meeting, and no plans were available. However, he is projecting a cost of $100 per square foot for office space and $50 to $60 per square foot for kennel cost construction.

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