Jul 28, 2014

Animal Shelter Price Tag Concerns Councilor

Jay DiLisio says he supports the construction of a new shelter, but he would like more information on why the project is expected to cost more than originally thought.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the first step toward building a new animal shelter in Attleboro, but the decision came with a comment of caution from one councilor.

Jay DiLisio said he was concerned about the recent revelation that construction of the 3,600-square-foot building is expected to cost in excess of $1 million, despite city officials' original forecast that the price tag would be between $600,000 and $700,000.

"I just want to see where we overshot so badly, what was behind it," DiLisio said.

Building Commission Chair Jack Jacobi  at its meeting last week. He said the commission learned of the price hike after interviewing three potential architects who said in separate conversations that it would cost $295 to $300 per square foot to build the shelter. He said municipal building projects usually cost about $200 per square foot.

"In no way am I taking away my support for this project," said DiLisio, who commented that the current shelter was in a deplorable condition and a new one must be built. "I just want to make sure that we're doing what we need to do to make sure we are being, as we've said so many times, the stewards of the funds of the city."

Mayor Kevin Dumas wrote in his proposed budget that he would make a request during the 2012-13 fiscal year to borrow money to fund the project.

The council voted on Tuesday to spend $50,000 to design the shelter. The firm selected to create the design is Connecticut-based  Design Learned, which specializes in animal facility engineering.

No other councilor made a comment about the vote.

The current shelter has been in use since 1980. Many people say it is too small and inadequate for proper animal care. Jacobi told the council last week that if all goes well, the new facility could open next summer.

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