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Iowa City City Council to mull next step in Animal Center reconstruction

BY NICK HASSETT | FEBRUARY 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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Almost five years after the 2008 flood caused irreparable damage to the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, city officials are moving forward with plans to build an new facility.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a resolution approving the second phase of the Animal Care and Adoption Center Project at its next meeting, Feb. 19.

If passed, it will authorize the city to move forward with architectural consultant services provided by Neumann Monson PC of Iowa City.

The animal center currently operates in a temporary facility, 4852 Sand Road — about five miles south of Iowa City.

Kumi Morris, the architectural services coordinator for Iowa City, said the second phase of the project will focus on developing specifics.

“The bulk of the design work, construction documents and administration, and bidding the project out are part of the second phase,” she said.

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said city officials now have a better grasp on the plans.

“After the first initial designs, a lot of things weren’t known,” he said. “Now we have a good idea what modifications need to be made and how many jurisdictions will participate.”

University Heights, the University of Iowa, Coralville, and Johnson County will all contribute to the project.

The project will be funded in part with FEMA dollars. FEMA has pledged $1.4 million to Iowa City for the animal center replacement, which will be 90 percent federal funds and 10 percent state funds.

The process for FEMA funding, though, is not quite that simple.

“It’s a multistep process,” Morris said. “They don’t just give us a check for $1.4 million.”

However, Morris says FEMA has been responsive as the plans for the project progress.

“The experience has been a good one,” she said. “When we submit requests, they’ve turned things around in a reasonable amount of time and have granted our requests thus far.”

The rest of the $3 million price tag will have to be made up with the contributions of the jurisdictions involved, as well as by the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, which hopes to raise $1 million for the project.

Kym Leyden, the executive director of the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, said the organization is always fundraising.

“We received lots of donations after the flood, and now we’re in the gearing-up phase to launch a fundraising campaign in a very public manner,” she said.

Leyden said the current facility has faced difficulties.

“We made the best with what we have and made sure it’s safe and healthy,” she said. “We’ve relied heavily on volunteers to put extra work into the facility; it isn’t built for the work they do.”

Morris agreed.

“[The current building] is a pre-fabricated facility. It’s noisy and not designed to house animals,” she said. “A lot of additional operational efforts have had to be made.”

Leyden has high hopes for the new facility, which will be located at 3910 Napoleon Lane.

“It’s much closer than the temporary facility [to Iowa City],” she said. “There’s lots of people involved in making sure the building is appropriate for the services. We want it to be a nice public space, inside and out.”

One Johnson County supervisor said the funding plans for the facility depend on the Animal Center Foundation’s fundraising.

“Part of the formula [for the cost of the project] is based on its ability to raise funding,” Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said. “We’re hoping that it has a successful campaign and we see our costs go down.”

The Board of Supervisors approved funding for the project last summer on a 4-1 vote.

However, Neuzil still had some concerns about the project.

“Clearly, in the end we made the most practical choice,” he said. “But I’m concerned about the cost associated with the project. I’ve heard stories about anything from bunny rabbits to snakes being brought in. It’s an expensive service.”


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