Exactly a year ago today, community members gathered at the future site of the Sedalia Animal Shelter on South New York Avenue for a groundbreaking ceremony. Today, that site has moved further down the road, and the building is still being constructed.
The new shelter, funded mostly by the Heckart Family Foundation along with a $50,000 donation from local resident and businesswoman Barbara Hayden and other small donations, has run into a few road blocks since the initial groundbreaking. Environmental hazards were found at the original site, forcing Foundation Chairman Sue Heckart to start from scratch and find a new location, which ended up being further down New York Avenue.
“It was a big disappointment we ran into the problem we did at the first site, and I’m frustrated with all the delays because it’s been just about a year ago that we had the groundbreaking, so I’m anxious to see it built and see the animals as well as Sedalia will benefit from it,” Heckart told the Democrat Wednesday.
The 6,410-square-foot facility was initially slated to be completed in February 2015, but the site change delayed that date. Construction crews were digging the hole for the foundation in Fall 2014 when they found environmental hazards, and City Administrator Gary Edwards told the Democrat last year it was possibly due to illegal dumping on the site years ago.
Soil samples were sent out for tests, and once the results came back, Heckart selected the new shelter site. Since then, weather delays and construction permits have contributed to the completion being pushed back even further.
“The rain, the weather itself and just waiting on permits, a lot of stuff had to be engineered,” said Hank Kronk, owner of Transition Construction in Sedalia and contractor on the shelter project, said of the delays.
So far, plumbing, electrical and pipe work is finished, and 90 percent of the concrete work is done, Kronk said. The next steps include masonry workers starting on rock work and the kennels and starting the framing of the building to get the roof on.
“I think overall it’s going good,” Kronk said. “It’s starting to move forward and things are getting done, hopefully soon we’ll start seeing the shape of it.”
Moving the site from outside of city limits to in city limits caused delays, as well as added costs, Heckart said.
“The first site wasn’t in the city limits. When we purchased the new site, it’s in city limits so everything has to be up to code, has to have engineered drawings, that has added considerably to the cost,” she said. “Probably added a third to it just to meet the city’s requirements.”
Heckart said the foundation would have to pay “considerably more than what I had originally thought” to cover the cost of the building. She also said she has gotten additional funding, although she was not at liberty to reveal who it was from. Hayden’s $50,000 contribution will go toward cat cages, Heckart said.
A recent Democrat article revealed a dispute over a large donation to the Sedalia Animal Shelter and the previous board. Some citizens think the donation should go toward building the new shelter, while the board claims the money should stay with them. Heckart isn’t taking sides, but said she wanted to clarify that while she would accept any donations, she is not actively seeking assistance.
“The reason (the shelter is) not progressing is definitely not the money factor,” she said. “I’m not begging for money; if anyone wants to contribute I would certainly welcome their donation, but I’m not seeking donations. … We might have a fundraising event at the Heckart Performing Arts Center, maybe something like that, but I’m not begging for money.”
The Foundation will only be funding the building itself, “but as far as equipping offices, desks, computers, that type of thing, no I don’t plan to help fund that. That will be up to whoever runs it,” Heckart said.
However, Heckart still has not announced who will be running the shelter once it is completed.
“It’s still up in the air. It will probably be the city, but that’s not set in concrete,” she said. “I haven’t made any concrete decision or plans, I don’t have any contract with anybody to run it. My main focus is try to get it built and be ready for someone to run it.”
That day is still to be determined.
At this time we don’t (have a set completion date),” Kronk said. “We’ve had some setbacks due to the weather and stuff like that. We’re just taking it one day at a time.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.