Zoo Funds Lined Up For New Health Building

SALISBURY – Different sources of funding have been aligned to move forward with the construction of a new Animal Health Building at the Salisbury Zoo.
First on the Salisbury City Council’s agenda regarding the project was a resolution to accept a donation from the Delmarva Zoological Society (DZS) and Zoo Commission as well as to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the DZS for the new facility.
According to Acting Director of Public Works Amanda Pollack, the DZS has raised $600,000 for the new Animal Health Building, a critical project for the zoo to be eligible for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation.
“I wanted to take a moment to thank the Delmarva Zoological Society,” Councilwoman Terry Cohen said prior to the council voting unanimously to approve the resolution. “They worked hard to raise these funds … they went out and raised as much money as they could, and they have committed quite a large sum to this building.”
The last item on the agenda was an ordinance on first reading to reallocate a bond to be dedicated to the zoo’s Animal Health Building project to cover a shortfall in funding.
Pollack explained, to maintain AZA accreditation, the Salisbury Zoological Park is required to build an Animal Health Building with animal holding areas, a surgery room, necropsy room, and an office area. The project was recently redesigned to comply with all AZA requirements and the new 2012 Energy Code. As a result of these changes, the cost to construct this building increased from the time when it was first bid.
Pollack furthered, the bid of the apparent low bidder was $2,317,000. Public Works and Internal Services-Procurement Division met with the prior two lowest responsive bidders to discuss possible value engineering options.
The final price from the apparent low bidder is $1,907,000. Currently, $1,656,095 of funding is available for the project, creating a shortfall of $250,905 over the recommended best and final price.
Public Works recommended the council utilize unused bond funds from other projects to fund the Animal Health Building and identified the Waverly Drive Storm Drain project, which was completed under budget by $539,000.
Cohen said at some point the city is going to have to take a stand and simply ask how much more can it afford when it comes to additional requirements.
“The USDA already regulates cities, and there is a certain level of safeguards for the animal’s right there, so if the AZA comes back to us we have to say, what we can afford to do,” she said. “We all want better treatment for the animals and everybody’s community effort over the last few years has been phenomenal…but in order to make these things happen it has to be something we can afford.”
Councilwoman Laura Mitchell also recognized the DZA for raising the funds the council asked.
“This was a situation where it has to be contracted now to get it done in time … I am really glad that this discussion began during budget meetings to look at what was sitting in old bonds that we are paying interest on and not using,” she said. “It is just one of those situations where we have money left in this bond because we came in under budget. Sometimes you get lucky like that and other times it comes in over budget.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance in first reading to use the remainder of a 2008 General Obligation Bond to cover the shortfall in funding for the project.