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Shelter's money adds up as groundbreaking nears

June 4th, 2014 8:59 am by Max Hrenda

Shelter's money adds up as groundbreaking nears

The site of the new animal shelter. A groundbreaking will take place this week. (File photo)

As the city and county prepare to break ground at the site of the new animal shelter, the joint city and county animal control board made sure its financials were in order.

On Tuesday evening, the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Control Board tallied donations and amended contracts in anticipation of the pending construction of the new animal shelter.

In March 2012, the ACB approved the purchase of a 6.6-acre tract of land off North Roan Street to serve as the site for the new shelter. Since that time, the governments of Johnson City and Washington County, along with an assortment of private donors, have worked to raise money to support its design and construction.

During Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Pete Peterson said that, two days away from the groundbreaking ceremony — which is scheduled for Thursday morning at 10:30 — those governmental and fundraising efforts have paid off.

“I really feel like we’re there,” Peterson said. “I feel very good in where we sit in terms of having a very good architect, a very good contractor, (and) we’ve had very good fortune to have people working hard to raise money and get donors to buy into this project.”

Many of those donations were collected by City Mayor and ACB member Ralph Van Brocklin, who said that, between actual donations and commitments from private donors, the city and county governments and local businesses, the board had collected approximately $2,181,208.59.

Van Brocklin said that figure did not, however, include a pledge of $500,000 from an anonymous donor.

“With the half-million dollars million, that brings us to $2.68 million,” he said.

During the board’s May 6 meeting, Van Brocklin told board members he was discussing the possibility of receiving a $250,000 donation from the donor on the condition the board could raise an additional $250,000 in matching funds. Additionally, the donor requested that the shelter plans be altered so that animals could be housed for a maximum time period of 14 days, instead of the shelter’s 10-day maximum, and include an adoption area where people and animals could become familiar with each other.

In May, board members were reluctant to commit to a funding increase without having the matching $250,000 in hand. Since that time, Van Brocklin said, he and the donor reached an agreement in which the donor would place $500,000 — without asking for any matching funds — in an escrow account.

“It’s still not in the bank, but I think we’ve worked everything out,” Van Brocklin said.
Van Brocklin added that the creation of the escrow agreement came with a $1,000 price tag, but that he and his wife agreed to pay it via contribution to the ACB.

“We’re considering that as part of our donation,” he said.

In addition to tallying donations, the board also approved amendments to its respective contracts with J.A. Street & Associates General Contractors and Thomas Weems Architects. J.A. Street set the project’s maximum cost at $2,636,897, 10 percent of which, according to Weems, who was present for the meeting, would be held as a contingency fund. The building’s size was set at 18,650 square feet, of which, Weems said, 650 square feet had been added as a “freebie.”

With regard to Weems’ business, the board approved an amendment to the size of his donation to the project, which increased to $38,660.37.

“We agreed to (a) 10 percent donation on the original agreement, so it just increased with the fee,” Weems said. “I’m just glad this job is finally moving.”

The groundbreaking Thursday morning will be held in the lot adjacent to Dixie Barbecue, located at 3301 N. Roan St.

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