City of Vicksburg re-advertises animal shelter project

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen is taking a second shot at a new animal shelter for the city.

The board at its Wednesday meeting approved re-advertising the project for bid with an anticipated Jan. 3 bid opening.

“We’re hoping we can get a good bid Jan. 3,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said after the meeting.

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The board on Oct. 6 rejected bids from J E Stevens Construction Group of Flowood and Fordice Construction to build the facility because they exceeded the project’s $1.67 million budget.

J E Stevens was the low bidder on the project with a $1.795 million base bid, while Fordice Construction of Vicksburg had a $1.95 million base bid.

When the base bids were combined with the bids for the four proposed alternates or extra features, Stevens’ total bid was about $1.958 million, while the total Fordice bid came in at about $2.187 million.

Flaggs said at the time neither bid was within 10 percent of the project’s estimated cost, which contributed to the decision to reject them.

Under state law, if the lowest and best bid is not more than 10 percent above the amount of money allocated for a public construction project, the board can negotiate with the lowest bidder to enter into a contract for an amount not to exceed the available funds for the project. Had the Stevens bid been within 10 percent of the project budget, the city could have negotiated the cost with company officials.

Community Development Director Jeff Richardson said after the Oct. 6 meeting city officials were meeting with the project architect and engineer and other contractors to consider changes in the building’s specifications to bring the bids more in line with the project budget.

On Wednesday, Richardson said some of the general changes in specifications included taking out the floor finish, simplifying the doors and hardware and changes in the height of the walls. He said city workers would do the site work in preparation for construction.

City officials have been considering a new animal shelter for several years. The current shelter is more than 50 years old and sits on a tract of land on Old Mill Road adjacent to the Vicksburg Fire Department’s training center in the Kings community.

The current shelter is in a flood zone and is subject to being surrounded by flash flooding. It was threatened by the 2019 flood and animals had to be evacuated in the 2011 flood. City officials considered several potential sites, including city property in a section of Cedar Hill Cemetery off  Sky Farm Avenue.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Flaggs, other city officials and city resident Marilyn Terry, who provided a recommendation for a shelter building, toured the former U.S. Rubber Reclaiming plant off U.S. 61 South, which is owned by the city and located in a flood zone, and a site in the 2100 block of Oak Street, south of Depot Street.

Problems with the Oak Street property forced city officials to remove the site from consideration. In August of this year, the board considered a 14.3-acre tract at 4211 Rifle Range Road owned by Cappaert Holdings LLP, but the city said it could not afford the $1.5 million to buy the land and build the shelter.

The Thomas family offered to donate the property and metal building on U.S. 61 South in September 2020.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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