Resurrection Bay is seen from Seward, Alaska on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Resurrection Bay is seen from Seward, Alaska on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Seward approves construction of animal shelter

The Seward City Council approved up to $1,930,500 for the construction of a new animal shelter, a project that has been in the works for decades, during its Monday council meeting — a meeting that was briefly interrupted by a gold-medal win by Seward’s own Lydia Jacoby, who took first at the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics.

The resolution approved by the council authorizes Seward City Manager Janette Bower to enter into an agreement with Dawson Construction, who the city scored highest among four contract proposals submitted for the project. According to the legislation, proposals were scored by Seward’s city manager, assistant city manager, deputy chief of police and community development director.

The City of Seward first identified the need to rebuild the city’s existing animal shelter in its 1999 strategic plan. The project was again identified as a priority by current members of the city council, per a survey that asked those council members to identify the capital improvements they thought should be the city’s top priority.

The city’s existing animal shelter — the Alice Pickett Animal Shelter — is located on Sixth Avenue and has not seen significant upgrades in more than 20 years, according to city documentation. Among other things, the city’s current animal shelter lacks indoor restrooms for employees, is too small to allow for adequate quarantine space for sick animals and is unable to accommodate some veterinary supplies and exam space.

The existing facility is also located in a tsunami inundation zone and in a residential area, meaning the shelter cannot expand into surrounding areas in the event of a community emergency. The new shelter will be located at 605 Sea Lion Ave., a site the council approved in 2018, and is expected to open next fall.

“The construction of a new shelter in a new location will solve the above issues and serve the community of Seward for decades to come,” Bower wrote in a memo to the council.

The project, which Dawson Construction anticipates will cost about $1.755 million, will be paid for from the City of Seward’s general fund and from money the city receives through the sale of municipal land. In all, the council approved $1,930,500 for the project, which includes the estimated costs from Dawson Construction as well as a 10% contingency fee, in case the project costs more than anticipated.

Dawson Construction Vice President Kendall Nielsen wrote in a letter to the city introducing the company’s proposal that the company would work to get the project done within the construction limits of Alaska’s weather and cited previous experience working with Alaska clients such as the Sealaska Heritage Institute, the City of Cordova and the City and Borough of Juneau.

“We understand the current shelter is obsolete and must be replaced with a resilient, durable facility which limits cross contamination between animals and provides a safe temporary home for displaced animals,” Nielsen wrote.

Monday’s full board meeting can be viewed on the City of Seward’s YouTube channel.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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