City rejects animal shelter bids

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City City Council voted to reject all the bids for the construction of the new animal care and adoption facility at a special meeting Monday.

City officials will hold a public hearing on April 15 to address plans, specifications, contracts, and costs associated with construction.  The lowest bid received was $941,000 over the project budget of $2.7 million.

For now, City Councilor Kingsley Botchway said, the project is in a “wait and see” stage.

Botchway said the companies would likely reduce their bids and resubmit them for consideration. Officials say rebidding will not affect the construction schedule for the shelter, which will be built at 3910 Napoleon Lane.

“It needs to get done and be done well and cost-efficient,” Botchway said.

Other councilors were disappointed by the bids as well.

“I would hope that when this comes back to us, that the new plans and designs would be such that they would allow us to implement the original scope and ideas, in as cost-efficient a manner as possible,” City Councilor Susan Mims. “Whether that’s adding on more space or other amenities we can’t necessarily afford at this time.”

Mims said the council should anticipate outcomes such as this with the recovery of the economy and the construction going on in the area.

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said he was disheartened by the responses from construction companies. Throgmorton, who has adopted two cats and one dog from the shelter, said he is a full supporter of a high-quality facility. 

“We’re all profoundly disappointed about the bids,” he said. “It seems to be the market, so we’ll do what we can.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse $1.4 million of the cost to replace the old shelter, which was destroyed in the 2008 flood. The Friends of the Animal Center Foundation has also promised to donate $1 million over a five-year period.

Botchway said despite the bids, the staff hopes to keep the plans as close to the original as possible.
Cedar Rapids resident Craig Rathje told the councilors the shelter should still be state of the art, and it could help Iowa City lead by example when it comes to shelters.

A modern shelter is essential for safety of the community, he said.

“We all know that animal-care facilities take care of unwanted and abused animals,” Rathje said. “I hope you can find away to make the original plans for the animal care center a reality.”

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