Prince William County is moving forward with plans for a smaller footprint for a new animal shelter to reduce construction costs.
Residents came out for a meeting of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday to support the multimillion-dollar project to replace the aging animal shelter on Bristow Road.
The building size has been reduced from 28,000 square feet to 25,760 square feet after cost estimates came in much higher than the $15.1 million the county budgeted in 2018.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, county staff presented for the first time an idea for an alternate plan: eliminating the construction altogether and instead renovating the existing animal shelter and buying a second facility in Manassas Park for a partial shelter.
Most residents who spoke Tuesday about the animal shelter did not support that alternative.
Supervisor Kenny Boddye, D-Occoquan, said during the meeting that so much money has already been spent on the design, the project should move forward. Deputy County Executive Rebecca Horner told the board about $1.8 million has been dedicated toward the project’s design.
The board decided to move ahead with the replacement project with its current challenges.
County Executive Christopher Martino told the board he expects to award the contract soon, but will update the board at its meeting March 10 before awarding the construction contract to build the replacement shelter.
Supervisor Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, said the animal shelter needs to be demolished with a bulldozer. In a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the site with Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, Angry said the building was donated to the county in 1975. “We need another facility to last 40 years.”
Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, requested an independent audit of the money spent already on the proposed animal shelter project. “Because we cannot expect to continue to operate in this manner and expect different results,” she said during the meeting.
On Jan. 21, Thomas Bruun, the county’s director of public works, told the board the project will be delayed from a February 2021 opening to a fall 2021 opening.
He said then the county budgeted $10.5 million for general construction of the shelter replacement, but the lowest bid the county received was $13.2 million, or $2.7 million over budget. Bruun said then staff was trying to renegotiate the contract so costs won’t exceed the budgeted $10.5 million.
Eric Fagerholm, appointed this year to represent the Potomac District on the county’s animal advisory committee, told the board he had concerns with the alternative Manassas Park site idea.
“The board approved that plan and they should stick with it,” he told InsideNoVa about the proposed animal shelter replacement.
Carol Litchfield told InsideNoVa at the news conference that the current animal shelter site, where the replacement will be built, is in a peaceful, wooded area, which is good for walking dogs outside.
She did not support the proposed alternative to try to purchase the Manassas Park site. She volunteers with the animal shelter and is on the board of the Prince William SPCA, which provides support to the animal shelter. She said the SPCA donated $27,000 in 2019 to buy supplies for the animal shelter.