Iowa City to scale back animal shelter

Council voted 6-0 at a special meeting to reject bids to build a new Animal Care and Adoption Center

IOWA CITY – City Council members said Monday that they hope the Iowa City area eventually gets the animal shelter city officials wanted, but for now the project is being scaled back.

The council voted 6-0 at a special meeting to reject bids to build a new Animal Care and Adoption Center that came in significantly higher than expected.

The city’s old shelter was destroyed in the 2008 flood. Animal services have been run out of a temporary facility south of town since then. The new shelter is to be on Napoleon Lane.

The city received nine bids for the project in late March. The lowest base bid was nearly $3.66 million, which is almost 33 percent higher than the $2.75 million a consultant estimated construction would cost.

The city’s budget for the total project is $3.1 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is contributing $1.4 million, and Friends of the Animal Shelter Foundation has committed to donating $1 million.

Johnson County, Coralville, University Heights and the University of Iowa, which also will be served by the shelter, are to share in project costs.

The project will now be revised and new bids will be sought, with a goal of awarding the construction contract in early June.

Council member Susan Mims said the bid results were disappointing but not a complete surprise given the recovering economy and the large amount of construction currently underway in the Iowa City area, which is driving up costs.

She said she hoped the new plans would allow for future additions to the shelter so that, to the extent possible, the city could eventually meet the original design.

Craig Rathje of Cedar Rapids, an avowed animal lover, said he hopes the efforts of Friends of the Animal Shelter Foundation are not for nothing.

“I hope you can find a way to make the original plans of the animal care shelter a reality,” he told the council.

Council member Jim Throgmorton said his goal remained to have a high-quality animal shelter.

“And we’ll do the best we can, and we’re all profoundly disappointed about the bids, but it seems to be the market,” he said.

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