The Denton Animal Shelter Foundation board suspended its regular meeting Thursday afternoon to hear a presentation from city leaders on progress of the new animal shelter.
More than two dozen donors and members of the board listened for more than a half hour and then peppered city leaders with questions. Jim and Linda McNatt were among those who came to the boardroom at Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home to hear the presentation. Jim McNatt had given the foundation $500,000 to name the shelter in honor of his wife, Linda.
Many donors and other Denton residents had become concerned in recent months about progress on the new shelter, particularly after the latest delay. The City Council voted in November to reinstate LEED certification, which delayed the completion of construction drawings by several months. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program certifies structures based on their energy efficiency and other sustainable building practices.
Bette Sherman, board president, said the meeting was an important one, especially since some of the grants for the shelter’s construction have time limits on them. Sherman pressed the city staff for a new opening date that the foundation board could be confident in sharing.
“Summer 2014,” Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said.
Fortune called the partnership between the community — through the foundation — and the city unique in his career, and one that city leaders appreciated. He laid out the timeline of events and the latest financial projections, which showed the city needs $1.1 million more cash on hand before signing construction documents.
Some foundation members were concerned that the city was back to ask for more money. The contract between the city and the foundation does not specify a dollar amount, but the foundation told city leaders that it would raise $2 million. The foundation announced in July 2011 that it had met the goal. However, part of meeting that goal included counting construction pledges of in-kind donations that totaled more than $500,000.
But Pete Kamp, who is both mayor pro tem and a member of the foundation board, shook her head at the question.
“We aren’t asking for another dime,” Kamp said, adding that the city intends to keep its end of the bargain.
Formal estimates from the architect, Connolly Architects and Consultants, put construction costs at about $5.3 million. The city has already planned to sell $2.55 million in certificates of obligation in April, Fortune said.
Donor Jan Springer pressed Fortune where the city would find the other $1.1 million. Fortune said the city staff plans to present the City Council with several options at an upcoming meeting.
The city still plans to begin construction in July, which puts the project seven months behind the original projections, Fortune said.
Previously, the city anticipated starting construction at the end of 2012.
Near the end of the meeting, Charles Stafford, who also serves on the Denton school board, turned to board members and donors around the meeting table to say it was important to note who was in attendance as the project timeline and funding was laid out.
“He just promised in front of his boss,” Stafford said, pointing toward Fortune and City Manager George Campbell, “and they are here in front of their bosses.”
In addition to Kamp, council members Chris Watts and Jim Engelbrecht also attended the meeting.
“I trust them,” Stafford said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Here is a list of key events in the funding and upcoming construction of the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Center for the city of Denton:
August 2007: City of Denton and Denton Animal Shelter Foundation sign agreement for public-private partnership
December 2008: City acquires land to build shelter for $980,264; presents master plan to City Council
January 2009: Foundation begins capital campaign
November 2010: Master plan revised to reduce estimated cost of shelter from $9.2 million to $5 million
July 2011: Foundation meets goal; raises $2 million
January 2012: City hires architect
September 2012: Ceremonial groundbreaking
July 2013: Estimated construction begins
Summer 2014: Estimated shelter opening