Healdsburg shelter lawsuit over construction troubles

  • 2/27/2012: B1:
    12/18/2011: B1:
    PC: The new building for the Healdsburg Animal Shelter on Westide Road.

Directors of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter are pinning their hopes on a lawsuit to collect the money to fix or rebuild their empty $3.5 million facility, which has been plagued by construction and design defects.

But they estimate it will take 18 months to two years to resolve the litigation and collect any funds, and perhaps another year after that to repair, or possibly dismantle and rebuild, the structure on Westside Road.

In the meantime, the cramped 52-year-old shelter across the road will continue to handle strays, and dogs and cats awaiting adoption.

Shelter officials said the animals there are well cared for, happy and healthy.

"The shelter is booming now. It has been a great summer in terms of adoptions," said Bill Anderson, head of the board of directors.

After a summer hiatus, directors on Wednesday night resumed their monthly public forums at the unfinished animal shelter, reading portions of the lawsuit they filed last month in Sonoma County Superior Court against the architect, general contractor and a half-dozen or so subcontractors who worked on the new facility.

"It's an exciting time. We can hopefully get this past us. Folks can see who is to blame and re-focus on running the animal shelter," Anderson said.

He acknowledged the turbulence in the organization earlier this year, sparked by the unfinished shelter and turnover of executive directors and board members. It was admittedly a "mess" and "disaster," what he described as an organization in tremendous crisis, in which friends became upset with each other.

"It has largely calmed down," he said.

He told an audience of about 30 people that a forensic audit of the organizations' finances showed there was no malfeasance or misappropriation of funds linked to the stalled building, or any co-mingling of funds between shelter operations and the new building campaign.

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