HARRINGTON HOUSE ROTTING, STUDY EYED TO FIND SOLUTION

November 14, 2000 12:00 am

By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte Countys battered womens shelter is infested with termites, made of rotten wood and does not comply with current health and safety regulations.

Thats why Harrington House officials are seeking the countys help in a feasibility study to help the agency receive grant funding to move out of its current facilities.

This is just to open up the discussion, Project Director Claudia Frances said Monday, regarding the agencys appeal to the Board of Supervisors at todays meeting.

Harrington House is in the process of looking for new property to relocate a battered womens shelter, and is conducting a grant-funded $35,000 feasibility study to do so.

Thus far, two sites both owned by the county have been named as likely contenders.

The first is a plot of unimproved property between F and G streets on Fifth Street. The second is property between Fifth and Sixth streets along G Street.

Frances said the current Harrington Houses age is a primary factor in the decision to look for other locations.

This place was originally built 50 years ago for use as a convalescent hospital, she said, adding that in its half-century of existence, the building has housed a convalescent hospital, a homeless shelter, and for the past five years, a battered womens shelter.

In that time, Harrington House has provided 18,000 meals and 6,000 bed-nights of shelter with 1,841 of those bed-nights provided within the past year. That means that the current 24-bed facility is frequently filled to capacity.

Del Norte County has the highest rate of domestic violence in the state nearly four times the state average.

In a document provided to The Daily Triplicate, Harrington House personnel state that the house is infested with termites, which requires the closure of the house for fumigation at regular intervals.

They say that infestation is caused by structural rotting, and that the cost of replacing all of the rotted wood is prohibitively high.

In addition, the document alleges that the building was poorly constructed in the first place, and that the landlords have not adequately maintained it.

In addition, with an increasing number of domestic abuse victims, room is at a premium in the current house.

We never have enough storage space, Frances said, adding: Wed like to have better facilities for the children.

Harrington House has identified two sites that would suit its needs.

The first, between F and G streets on Fifth Street, has the advantage of being unimproved, but would require an entirely new facility to be built, according to Consulting Architect Jeff Mitchell.

In addition, the site has a slope that drops approximately 10 feet, which could create some problems, according to Mitchell.

The second site, along G Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, has two residential-style buildings already built on it. It is also flatter than the first site, and is larger than the first one.

According to Frances, Harrington House is looking for something on the order of a fixed, low-cost 99-year lease from the county.

If Harrington House is able to secure such an arrangement from the county, it is much more likely to receive grant funding for any needed moving, renovation or construction, Frances said.

If the Board of Supervisors elects to consider assisting Harrington House, the matter will be referred to the boards Future Facilities Goal Committee for recommendations.

Frances said she hopes to have the feasibility study completed by Dec. 31.

The board will consider the Harrington House request at todays meeting, which is open to the public, and begins at 10 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 981 H Street.