Saratoga County

Architect: Shelter cost nearing $7M

The architect who said in April a new county animal shelter could be built for $5 million is now

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The architect who said in April a new county animal shelter could be built for $5 million is now saying the total project cost is closer to $7 million, and the news didn’t sit well with members of the county’s Buildings and Grounds Committee.

“I don’t think this county board will approve a $7 million project. That’s where we’re at,” said committee member Supervisor Preston L. Jenkins Jr., D-Moreau, when the news was delivered at a meeting Tuesday in Ballston Spa.

Architect Tom Petersen of The Petersen Group in Clifton Park responded that he and his consultants will explore ways of lowering the cost, but it may not be easy.

“Is there money we could take out? A little, but we rapidly get to the point where we can compromise the longevity of the project,” Petersen said.

“We obviously need to be creative in a whole lot of areas,” Petersen said.

He will meet with the committee again on Aug. 11, hoping to provide revised cost estimates.

The new price figure is the first detailed estimate done by Petersen, who was hired in April after saying he thought he could meet a $5 million budget informally set by county supervisors.

Studies done by a different architect in 2007 put the cost of a new shelter initially at $12 million, which was later redesigned down to about $8 million.

Both those estimates were too high for supervisors, though they generally acknowledge the need for a new animal shelter.

By all accounts, the current shelter on County Farm Road in Milton is too small and too old to meet the current demand for appropriate care of lost, stray and dangerous dogs and cats.

The building designed by The Petersen Group is 24,000-square-feet, about three times the size of the current shelter. It would have roughly three times as many dog kennels, and three times as many cat cages. It would be built in front of the current shelter, which would be demolished.

The new facility would also include an operating room for spaying and neutering animals prior to adoption — something the county doesn’t now have, but an essential need in a new facility, according to shelter Director Daniel Butler.

Budget considerations aside, “I think this is exactly what we need. I think everything is here,” Butler said of the Petersen design.

The $7 million figure discussed by the committee is a total project cost.

Petersen said the estimated hard construction cost is $5.1 million. However, he and a consulting team, including MLB Construction Services of Malta, recommend another $1 million be included in the budget to cover construction inflation, possible future design changes, and contingencies during construction.

The remaining cost includes Petersen’s roughly $465,000 design fee, about $300,00 for construction management services, and other legal, permitting and financing costs.

Some cost-cutting ideas were discussed.

Supervisor Jean Raymond, R-Edinburg, said county public works crews may be able to do the site preparation work and demolish the existing building, saving around $500,000. Petersen said some air-handling equipment might be optional, even though an animal shelter needs to circulate a lot of air to maintain comfort and avoid odors.

But Petersen said the building itself is already a very basic design.

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