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Jackson approves $4 million for animal shelter project

The animal shelter project is one phase of a planned Green Energy Park makeover that also calls for a public park, innovation center and event space. Holly Kays photo The animal shelter project is one phase of a planned Green Energy Park makeover that also calls for a public park, innovation center and event space. Holly Kays photo

Jackson County commissioners voted 4-1 Oct. 20 to approve a $4.33 million contract to build a new animal rescue center as well as walking trails and other improvements at the Green Energy Park in Dillsboro. 

The contract includes a base bid of $4.09 million, along with several add-on costs — $84,300 to install a backup generator, $49,600 to add an epoxy covering to the floor, $80,200 for a public bathroom near the walking trails and $26,400 for a storage building for use by the nonprofits that will have offices in the animal shelter building. 

Additional costs — architecture and engineering fees, permitting fees, equipment, technology and the like — will bring the project’s grand total to $5.61 million, a step above the $5.39 million project ordinance commissioners passed in December. As part of the Oct. 20 consent agenda, commissioners approved a project ordinance amendment that will allocate an additional $224,000 to the project. With the bid officially accepted, said County Manager Don Adams, the next step will be to develop the actual contract for both parties to sign. 

All in all, the construction contract is worth $363,000 more than the amount originally budgeted for in the project ordinance. A reduction in the contingency line item — the amount went from a fairly high 15 percent to 7 percent of the total construction cost — helps account for the difference. 

The county received seven bids for the project, commissioners learned during an Oct. 13 work session, all of which came in over the budgeted amount for construction. The base bids ranged from H&M’s low bid of $4.03 million to $5.8 million, with each bidder including pricing to add any of the six alternatives for an extra cost. 

Regarding the alternatives, commissioners decided to go with the epoxy floor over the less expensive polished concrete floor because the epoxy coating would seal any cracks between wall and floor, increasing the cleanliness of the facility. They passed on the most expensive alternative, a $114,400 heated floor that would have used methane from the closed landfill as fuel. 

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During the Oct. 13 meeting, several commissioners expressed doubt about the radiant floor, saying that they hadn’t had good experiences with them in other situations and pointing out that it was the costliest of the alternatives. There was also some discussion about the durability of an epoxy floor, with commissioners seeking assurance that the epoxy product and the quality of its installation would be covered by warranty. 

Cary Perkins of McMillan Pazden Smith, lead architect on the project, told commissioners that the specifications of the job would include a warranty on the epoxy, as well as specific conditions to ensure correct installation. 

During the Oct. 20 vote Commissioner Boyce Deitz was the only member of the board to vote against awarding the bid, though he did vote with the rest of his colleagues to approve the consent agenda that included the project ordinance amendment. Deitz has repeatedly expressed reservations about the project’s price tag. 

“I’m against this,” he said Oct. 13. “When I look at to put a phone system and security in it’s going to cost $146,000, to put a building up it’s going to cost $26,000 — a metal building like we see up and down the road here — it don’t cost that much.”

Deitz was the sole no vote when the project ordinance was adopted last year, though Commissioner Mickey Luker was absent for that vote. 

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