(Note: This article was updated with video clips on Wed., June 28.)
Healdsburg Animal Shelter leaders held another community forum at the new shelter building on Tuesday. About 30 people attended the meeting.
spoke of the issue most on the minds of community members -- construction issues with the new building.
“It continues to be a nightmare for many of us,” he said. “We’ve initiated a construction defect lawsuit against the original contractor.”
While the general contractor filed for bankruptcy last year, shelter officials have ascertained that the contractor’s liability insurance was in effect, and is high enough coverage to take care of any repairs or rebuilding the structure might need.
Instead of a minimum of a six inch slab, the core samples indicate the concrete slab is only four inches in some places. In addition, there are now questions about the mix of the concrete.
“We’ve retained a law firm—one of the top firms in the U.S.—SheppardMullin,” said Anderson. “They are jumping on this quickly.”
One of the attendees question whether the law firm was taking the case on contingency.
“They are currently working pro bono,” Anderson replied. “But it will be on contingency. We’ve been told we have a good case.
“We’ve retained an expert on concrete, and they will come out this week,” he continued.
“The bad news—is the timing,” he went on to say. “It will take a year plus to adjudicate.
“We’ve been waiting to do work on the existing shelter but now we’ll go ahead with that work,” said Anderson.
He also indicated that the worst-case scenario would be that the new shelter would not open until late 2013 and the best-case scenario is not much better—early 2013.
“We will not need to go back to the community to ask for more money to complete the new shelter,” he said.
He switched from the building to another issue important to community members, the forensic audit. According to Anderson it is nearly complete and the CPA has not encountered any malfeasance.
“We are not seeing anything bad in the audit,” said Anderson. “Bad decisions from an all-volunteer board, yes, but no out-right problems.”
There will not be another community forum in July as many people will be out of town, including Anderson. Shelter officials expect to hold another forum in August and they will fully disclose the results of the audit.
They continue to build both the shelter board and the advisory board. They are looking for someone with a sound financial background to join the shelter board.
“We’re in good form for the summer,” said Anderson. “Adoptions are good. We held the over the weekend.
“We continue to ‘get the brand out there,’” he summed up.
He lauded for her ability to gather the paperwork needed to prove the shelter’s case in court. He commended her long-term presidency and capped it by saying, “I’m not going be doing this five years from now.”
While he cannot speculate on what kind of award the shelter might win from the litigation, Anderson did indicate that there is a “good amount of insurance available.”
A member of the audience noted, there were ‘deep pockets’ to draw from to general laughs from the rest in attendance.
They have not been able to rule out tearing the building down, however. All sub-contractor guarantees are based on a sound building. Unless the slab is brought up to code, the other warrantees could be voided. The decision regarding the building will be an insurance company decision.
While the project and process were permitted, inspected and approved by county officials, no claims can be made against the county and it bears no financial liability.
The design of the new shelter may differ significantly from the current layout of the building.
Another continuing issue is that approximately three subcontractors have not yet been paid. While it is frustrating for all parties, invoices and work have to be checked carefully line by line.
It is possible that there have been some overpayments for work not completed.
The subcontractors have brought liens against the Healdsburg Animal Shelter, which according to Anderson, is good business practice.
“Are there more architectural changes to the building beyond the floors?” asked local dog walker Cecilia Pietropauli.
“Inside, perhaps we’ll have more communal pens for dogs,” said Anderson. The community could expect some “pattern layout changes.”
Isolation areas, particularly dog isolation areas, as well as the stray intake area still need work. The high ceilings threaten a loud, stressful environment acoustically. Anderson said that these issues are still to be resolved after the slab litigation is complete.
He indicated that perhaps a modular isolation unit would be placed outside the building. He also stated that it makes no sense to spend money on the interior until the slab issues are resolved. Heating and cooling will need to be addressed, as well.
The City of Healdsburg has indicated they will be cooperative with the longer-term occupation of the old shelter building.
Sapir Weiss of Olivet Kennels is one of the trainers offering his expertise to train the volunteers in dog handling. Weiss attended the meeting. He indicated he was brought on the advisory board by .
In addition to Weiss, Trish King and Mike Ossenbeck, assist in evaluating the dogs and training the volunteers.
Weiss showed the “bible” they are using to document procedures and training and indicated they are working with proven programs and keeping good records.
HAS officials will begin looking for a replacement for animal control officer Ryan Pelleriti, who had tendered his resignation. His last day is July 17. Pelleriti will be part of the hiring process of his replacement.