banner ad

Supervisors Hope to Stick to Original Plan for New Prince William Animal Shelter

, | February 27, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Neabsco Supervisor Victor Angry and Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson lead a media conference at the Prince William Animal Shelter.

By Stacy Shaw

Prince William County Supervisors decided Tuesday they would like stick to the plan of building a brand new animal shelter at the existing Bristow Road location.

They are no longer considering the option of purchasing a veterinary clinic in Manassas Park, despite the $6 million savings it would offer during the design and construction phase.

Supervisors would like to keep as much of the Option C’s original design as feasible. They agreed it would be poor governance to fund such a big undertaking if it would be insufficient to fulfill county needs into the future.

Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson (R) asked the County Executive to look for year-end budget savings and report back to the board. She would like those savings be applied to preserving original design options in the project.

They will vote on it at their Mar. 10 meeting.

Press Conference

By Jamie Rogers

Just before the board meeting, Supervisors Jeanine Lawson and Victor Angry (D-Neabsco) held a special press conference where they pushed for answers as to why animal shelter plans have unspooled.

“The County staff has been chasing their tail,” Lawson said. “My golden retriever used to chase her tail and it was really cute-this is not cute.”

Photo of Manassas Park veterinary clinic, Option E. (Prince William County Government)

Lawson called the stymied project a, “big fat debacle” and a waste of time and county funds.

Lawson said she is unhappy about the dearth of information and the differences in the numbers and answers she’s been given over the past 18 months.

Both supervisors were especially critical of county staff’s latest option-buy a building in the City of Manassas Park.

The building, located on Manassas Drive, was formerly a veterinary clinic, dog grooming and boarding business and was expected to go to auction on Thursday, leaving a 48-hour window for lawmakers to make a decision on buying it.

That option posed a lot of legal challenges, Lawson said, particularly because it is located in another locale.

This new option would be a setback, Angry said at the conference, adding that he first wants to listen to what residents have to say about it.

“It’s a hot mess. We’re in a hot mess environment and we need to clean this up and get better,” he said.

That Manassas Park building lacks space, is close to a major roadway and doesn’t have outdoor room to walk dogs, said Carol Litchfield, a Prince William County Animal Shelter volunteer and a board member for Prince William SPCA, a nonprofit that works closely with the shelter.

Lawson pushed for the county to return to the original plan: Build a new animal shelter on the grounds of the current shelter.

If there are financial shortcomings, county staff should not ask the board for more money, but rather, find the needed funds in the public works, the police department or the county executive’s budgets, she proposed.

Drawing of original Design C for the new Prince William Animal Shelter. (Prince William County 2017 presentation before the board.)

Option C then and Now

By Stacy Shaw

Option C as of September of 2017 was meant to house more animals and have sufficient space to care for the animals, provide comfortable spaces for employees and those looking to foster and adopt the animals

The projected cost was $15.1, in 2017. The total construction area is 28,105 square feet.

Features included a welcome lobby; staff offices; spaces for animal adoption, isolation, quarantine and recovery; spaces for small animals; multipurpose room; 106 double-sided cat kennels and 56 double-sided dog kennels; a new barn; and a staff gym.

But that plan became costly as design and construction costs increased. So staff proposed a scaled down version at $16.2 million, still over budget.

The revised option would reduce interior footage; funds for new equipment; and eliminate the small animal room and gym. They would still leave them $1.1 million short on funds needed to demo existing buildings, furniture and fixtures, to relocate animals, and build a new barn.

Staff suggested the gym could be turned into a small animal space and offices. Money earmarked for a new incinerator could be spent instead on fixtures, furniture and equipment. The barn could be deferred to a later date.

The completion of the project would go from early 2020 to Fall of 2021.

But the biggest problem is a lack of future room for growth.

Alternate Option “E”

The alternative to building a brand new shelter would be buying the veterinary clinic at 9471 Manassas Drive in Manassas Park. They would also renovate the existing shelter at Bristow Road.

The total cost of those two projects would be $10 million, an approximate $6 million saving. And they could house more dogs and cats between the two sites. However, there would be a 10% increase in annual operational costs around $150,000 per year.

Supervisors opposed that option for many of the reasons presented at the press conference, and a general lack of community support. Passionate animal lovers sent post cards saying they wanted to see Option C completed.

Not Wanting to Delay

The supervisors clearly expressed they did not want to delay the contract any longer. At the same time, they recognized they should not spend $15-16 million to build a shelter that is insufficient to meet the county’s needs.

Lawson said it would be “penny smart but pound foolish,” as they want the shelter to last 30-40 years. Supervisor Andrea Bailey (D- Potomac District) called it “fiscally irresponsible” to plow ahead without knowing what they were getting.

Lawson said the contradictory information they receive that night “epitomizes” the communication problem she regarding the shelter over the past three years.

Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boyde (D) said he sent a postcard advocated for the new shelter three years ago and it is unthinkable that the project still has not been contracted.

Supervisors also advocated for the new barn ASAP, as staff at the shelter said the current one is greatly dilapidated.

Lawson suggested using year end savings from the police, public works, and any other end of year savings the county executive can find, to fund as much of the original Option C design as possible. The shelter falls under the purview of the police department.

The board asked the county executive to briefing them on additional funding on March 10, and to speak with the architects and contractors about the cost of keeping the more important design elements and features.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad