By SCOTT JACKSON
City councillors on Tuesday gave their approval to a $15 million bond to pay for the construction of a new building on Quarry Street that will provide a new home for the Quincy Animal Shelter, the city’s animal control officer, and the Police Department’s K-9 unit.
Councillors approved the bond in a 7-1 vote on Tuesday, one week after passing it out of finance committee. Councillor Anne Mahoney voted against the request and Councillor Nina Liang was not in attendance for the meeting.
Shortly before the vote, Council President Noel DiBona thanked supporters of the animal shelter – a dozen of whom were present that evening – for their efforts.
“I want to thank all the animal shelter folks who came out tonight – thank you for all the emails that have come through to me over the last few weeks. I appreciate all your support of it,” DiBona said.
“This is a long overdue process and…hopefully we can move forward and get this thing built. I just want to thank you for all your time and energy you put into not only the animals but for the city of Quincy.”
City councillors in 2017 approved a $3.55 million bond for the project, half of the money Mayor Thomas Koch was seeking at the time. Ward 4 Brian Palmucci made the motion to cut the bond in half, expressing concern over fully funding the project before the design was complete and about the size of the building, which he likened to the Taj Mahal.
After the $15 million passed on Tuesday evening, Palmucci said he was sorry the project has taken so long to get going.
“If I had known then what I know now, we would have got the Taj Mahdog that was presented that night. I’m very sorry that there has been such a delay, but [I’m] glad to see that it’s going through now,” Palmucci said.
Mahoney did not comment on the request during Tuesday’s meeting but did express concern about the cost of the building during the previous committee hearing. At that hearing on June 15, she noted the town of Milton had asked the architect – the same firm that designed the new facility in Quincy – to go back to the drawing board to try to reduce costs on an animal shelter proposed in that town.
“You are doing that for the town of Milton. You’re not being asked to do that for the city of Quincy,” Mahoney said. “I think this council needs to ask you to go back and do that. You need to tighten your belt and come back with something we can afford to do.”
The new Quincy Animal Shelter will be located at 99 Quarry St., adjacent to the city’s dog park, and will replace the current animal shelter on Broad Street, where the city is building a new public safety headquarters.
At the June 15 hearing, Sandra Sines, the president of the Quincy Animal Shelter, said the city’s residents and animals would both be well-served by the new facility.
“Since we began in 1999, the city of Quincy has changed in so many positive ways,” she said. “The residents of the city of Quincy and the animals we serve deserve this new shelter. The Quarry Street shelter will allow us to continue our work and support the community for generations to come.”
The new building on Quarry Street will contain about 14,900 square feet of space, down from the initial 21,000-square-foot facility that was presented in 2017. The building will have capacity for 84 animals when it opens: 30 cats and 8 dogs ready for adoption, 32 cats and 11 dogs not ready for adoption, and 3 of the Police Department’s canines at a given time. Each animal-holding area will have its own exercise yard for those animals.
The building will include a reception area, interview rooms where residents looking to adopt a pet can meet with shelter staff, and support areas, such as space for food preparation and bowl cleaning, laundry and administrative offices. It will also have space for sheltering the pets of evacuees.
The building will feature a clinic on site with an exam room – to be used by both the shelter and animal control – a treatment area, a surgery prep room, and a single room for spaying, neutering and surgery. The 2017 proposal had a larger on-site clinic than what is now included in the plan.
The city plans to go to bid for the building over the summer and begin construction in late September. It should be substantially complete in November 2023 and ready for occupancy in January 2024.
The $15 million bond includes $13.95 million for construction costs, $100,000 each for fees to utility companies, materials testing and geo-tech, and furnishings, plus $750,000 for contingencies. The $3.55 million bond approved in 2017 was used to complete the design of the project and also paid for site work.
Before the Quincy Animal Shelter can move into the new building, it will relocate to a temporary home on East Squantum Street, which Paul Hines, the city’s commissioner of public buildings, told councillors on June 15 is being renovated at a cost of $1 million. Those costs are being paid for with relocation funds included in one of the bonds for the public safety building, he said.
Workers in the Public Buildings Department will move into the facility on East Squantum Street once the shelter moves out, Hines said. They are currently based out of North Quincy High School.
In a separate 7-1 vote on Tuesday, councillors approved using eminent domain to acquire a leasehold interest in the building on East Squantum Street and 2.7 acres of nearby land. Hines on June 15 said the agreed-to fee for the taking is $150,000.