Newly built Dutchess County animal shelter unable to open

A Dutchess County animal nonprofit is at risk of losing its new shelter because of upgrades the town is allegedly asking for - that they say they can’t afford.

Blaise Gomez

Aug 17, 2022, 7:00 PM

Updated 605 days ago

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A Dutchess County animal nonprofit is at risk of losing its new shelter because of upgrades the town is allegedly asking for - that they say they can’t afford. 
Josephine Santoro is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and retired dog control officer. 
She runs the pet food pantry in Fishkill and built the Safe Haven Animal Shelter on South Greenhaven Road in the town of Beekman to expand her nonprofit’s services. 
The problem is, she says, that the town is requiring a drainage system and a parking lot to open that her nonprofit can’t afford, estimated to cost $300,000. 
“I retired in 2015 to build this animal shelter. This was mine and my husband’s dream,” said Santoro. “Unfortunately, he passed away in 2018 and didn’t live to see it, but I just keep moving forward because that’s what he would’ve wanted me to do.” 
Santoro finished building the 14-kennel shelter with donations in 2021 and says the building has sat vacant since without a certificate of occupancy.
She says the nonprofit budgeted for the parking lot but didn't expect to install an underground drainage system.  
A representative for the town of Beekman says the town is requiring the nonprofit comply with local and state laws after allegedly using contaminated, free fill during construction. 
They say the Department of Environmental Conservation requires an asphalt cap on the affected area and a drainage system since the area disturbed is more than one acre.
Santoro says the fill used is safe "consumption" material containing bricks and that DEC approved a less expensive covering, such as item 4, until the area could be paved at a later date.
She says the DEC said the drainage system could also be installed after the shelter opens, and that it's the town requiring both ahead of time. 
For more information on Safe Haven Animal Shelter, click here.


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