Saratoga County

Saratoga County animal shelter nearing approval

County officials are ready to make a final commitment to building a new animal shelter in Milton.

PHOTOGRAPHER:

County officials are ready to make a final commitment to building a new animal shelter in Milton.

The county’s Buildings and Grounds Committee on Monday unanimously approved a new $438,500 design contract with C.T. Male of Latham.

Members made clear this means a commitment to the long-simmering plan to build a new home for stray and unwanted dogs and cats. They specifically included a clause stating the commitment in their resolution, which now goes to the county Board of Supervisors.

“We shouldn’t be spending money at this level unless we are committed to construction,” said Supervisor Paul Sausville, R-Malta.

County officials want to break ground on the new shelter next year.

The new shelter would replace a current shelter on the same County Farm Road site. That shelter is old, and too small for current needs. It would be torn down as part of the project.

“Anyone who’s toured that shelter knows it needs to go, as soon as possible,” committee member Supervisor Jean Raymond, R-Edinburg, said at the meeting in Ballston Spa. “There’s public support for this. We have to do this.”

The committee’s action — which will go to the full Board of Supervisors on Dec. 16 — follows a report last month from C.T. Male of Latham that a new shelter could be built for $5.27 million.

The county would borrow the construction funds.

County officials have wanted to get the building for a $5 million construction budget. Initial estimates two years ago pegged the price of a new shelter at $12 million to $14 million.

Earlier this year, the county hired architects the Petersen Group of Clifton Park, who said they could deliver a building for the county’s price, but than returned with a $7 million estimate. Hiring C.T. Male also means terminating the county contract with the Petersen Group.

The committee also voted to spend another $385,000 developing construction plans and obtaining regulatory approvals for a new county public safety building at the County Farm site.

Architect David Pacheco said the detailed plans have to be developed before the state Health Department will review the project for a required “certificate of need.”

The new building would bring under one roof the county sheriff’s department, the emergency services office, and the county public health nurses. Moving the public health offices requires the state Health Department approval, and the state requires reviewing the construction plans.

Raymond said it’s an excessive level of detail, but said there’s no choice but complying with state rules. “We know there’s a need, and I’m confident they will support it,” she said.

The public health department is now located on Woodlawn Avenue in Saratoga Springs, in an old building that may be worth $2 million on the real estate market because of its downtown location. County officials plan to sell the building, and use proceeds toward the public safety building’s estimated $13.6 million cost.

If it goes forward, construction would start no sooner than 2010, and might not happen until 2011.

The new contract with Pacheco’s firm, Pacheco-Ross Architects of Voorheesville, won committee approval by a 6-1 margin. Sausville voted against the new public safety building contract, saying he has too many questions to make a commitment.

“That spending for me means a commitment to construct,” he said.

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