Babylon Town officials have chosen the highest bidder to design a new animal shelter for the town.

At a town board meeting earlier this week, Design Learned Inc. of Norwich, Conn., was awarded a contract for $460,874 for engineering and designing a new animal shelter.

The town has said that the current shelter in West Babylon is cramped and inefficient. Director Chris Elton has described many of the building's features as "wrongheaded or just out of date." The new shelter will be built on a town-owned lot in North Amityville.

The other bids were from Mineola-based Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP for $324,250 and Cameron Engineering & Associates LLP in Woodbury for $339,655.

The town's five-person review committee -- consisting of town officials and employees -- reported that Design Learned beat the other companies in qualifications, experience and methodology. Other bidders either "showed a lack of understanding of the scope of the project" or entered a bid that included the "decidedly odd choice" of hiring a veterinarian as a building and design consultant.

Design Learned, the report stated, has been involved with more than 60 shelters and "countless other" animal care facilities. Details in their bid and overall approach "stood head and shoulders above the rest," the committee indicated.

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Town spokesman Kevin Bonner said while the other companies had lower bids, they appeared likely to have more change work orders than Design Learned, whose contract was renegotiated down from $565,254.

The town in March approved bonding for $500,000 toward the design, engineering and architecture of the new facility. Bonner said the town will likely bond for the remainder of the costs, including construction, but is also looking into grants and will apply money from the sale of the current shelter property.