Lake Jackson City Hall

LAKE JACKSON — The city’s new animal control facility is going to take a bit more time, Assistant City Manager Meagan Borth said.

The contract with the SPCA of Brazoria County to operate the current shelter expires this year, but the city and the nonprofit will continue to operate under the current structure before the city turns over the building to the animal welfare group. Council will consider extending the interlocal agreement with the SPCA until March 1, 2024, during its next meeting.

The original timeline had the city’s new animal control building, which will be used solely to process the animals, finished as early as July, through October was more realistic. The snag occurred when it came time to hire a contractor, Borth said during council’s meeting Tuesday.

“We had to deny or reject all of the bids,” she said. “The two bids that came in for the animal control facility were significantly over budget, because of a lack of understanding by our contractors of materials and the type of project that we’re wanting to do.”

The project, expected to cost $3.7 million, is one of six bond propositions approved by voters in 2021. City staff rejected the initial bids and reopened the window for proposals until Feb. 27, Borth said.

Lake Jackson is modeling the facility after one in Atascosa County near San Antonio, both in design and its no-kill policy, Borth said. Atascosa County’s shelter is not no-kill but fewer than 10 percent of its animals are euthanized, she said.

The plans for the two-story facility include covered awnings for families to play with dogs outside, a pen big enough for a horse or other large animal and a cat holding area on the first floor. The administrative area for employees would be upstairs.

The facility will be about 13,000 square feet, with 2,700 square feet designated for administration and 8,200 square feet for dogs and cats.

The agreement with the SPCA will place them on a month-to-month lease once the year is over; however, the city will give them a courtesy 60-day notice when the opening of the new facility is near.

“I do anticipate construction will take about a year, so this should put us pretty good on schedule,” Borth said. “I’m giving them a little extra time. I think our original estimate was about six to eight months. I’m giving them some room for error and everything else that happens during construction, so I think that this March 1 extension will get us to the facility being open or at least very close.”

Council had an closed session to discuss further design plans and the agreement to accept TDECU’s parkland gift to the city; however, no new details were released at the close of the regular meeting on the topic.

Wurst Haus Restaurant owner Richard Wood addressed the council saying he is excited about the benefits downtown businesses could receive from the partnership, and that he’s been keeping up with the city’s strategic plan for downtown for a long time.

“Whenever you’ve got bare land next door to your house and somebody’s wanting to build something on it, you’re kind of curious about what your neighbor’s going to be building right there and how it’s going to affect your property,” Wood said. “I would like to encourage the council to keep the pedestrian-friendly push in mind.”

If the city plans well, a walkway could be created to make a footpath available to downtown businesses after parkgoers attend an amphitheater event or enjoy the park in general, he said.

It would be beneficial to the city in terms of sales tax revenue if they keep access to downtown in their minds during this planning stage, Wood said.

In other business, the city has officially submitted its application for a mitigation grant of $2.1 million to be used for projects stemming from the 2019 Eastside Drainage Study.

Also, the downtown rehabilitation project is finally speeding up and is making significant progress toward completion, City Engineer Sal Aguirre said.

As of Wednesday, two crews are working on the North Parking Place pavement. The remaining Circle Way portion has two gaps left at Walgreens, but that will be reconciled soon, he said.

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