Opts for firm that designed the Currituck County facility

After getting a report from County Manager Bobby Outten, the Dare County Commissioners voted at their Nov. 5 meeting to switch the architects on the $2 million project to build a new county animal shelter. 

      After Outten, speaking for absent Commissioner Rob Ross, told the board that Ross had expressed concern about “their fit and his comfort level in working with them,” the commissioners unanimously decided to replace the architectural firm of Guernsey Tingle with Waller, Todd & Sadler. 

      The Waller firm designed the new $2.4 million Currituck County animal shelter, which opened in January 2016 and has been widely praised as a state-of-the art facility. In approving the Waller firm, the board also authorized Outten to conduct contract negotiations with it.

      In explaining the decision to switch, Outten told the commissioners that he and Ross had met recently with representatives from Guernsey Tingle — which the county had selected as the shelter architect in September — to discuss costs and to "get to know them."

      Outten said that, following that meeting, Ross "was concerned about some of the information they provided us...about their fit and about his comfort level in working with them." He added that Ross asked if it would be possible to look into the Waller firm as a replacement. After a meeting with Waller representatives, Ross asked Outten to tell the commissioners he was recommending making a change and selecting them as shelter architects. 

      Asked by Dare County Commissioner Steve House for a "clarification" about why Outten and Ross were not comfortable with Guernsey Tingle, Outten said the Waller firm provided significantly lower construction cost estimates and was more "forthcoming" in discussing the project and estimates of the total cost. Outten also explained that no contract has yet been entered into by the county and Guernsey Tingle.

      "They're both fine architecture firms," Outten stressed, "and we're not trying to disparage anybody."

      A self-described “dog lover,” Ross has taken the lead in promoting animal safety and adoption services in Dare County. He previously told the Sentinel that, when he visited the Currituck County animal shelter, he found the facility "modern and clean" and was "very impressed with the outstanding staff" and the professional process they follow in "qualifying" prospective adopters as "proper, acceptable adoptive families, rather than just handing them over."

      Among other amenities, the new Currituck shelter features an ornate glass entrance and includes both indoor and outdoor dog kennels, a play yard and agility course and an isolation room for sick dogs. Cats have a Stay and Play room, a Featured Pets room, a completely stocked veterinary services room and an isolation room where they can rest and rehabilitate.

      Shelter Manager Rachael Stone told the Sentinel that the Currituck shelter "is just a beautiful facility" and “it felt like we were in the Taj Mahal…We have plenty of space for everything we do."

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Editor, Outer Banks Sentinel

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