Humane Society eviction in St. James on hold

Kristine Goodrich, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—ST. JAMES — The city of St. James has suspended its eviction of the Watonwan County Humane Society and will consider selling the city property to the organization.

The Humane Society has cared for and found new homes for stray and surrendered animals on city-owned property for decades. But last month it received an eviction notice giving the shelter 90 days to vacate.

At a City Council meeting this week, Mayor Gary Sturm announced the eviction is on hold "pending further negotiations."

During recent meetings with the city, Sturm said Humane Society leaders proposed buying the city property.

Humane Society board member Sue Leach confirmed the idea has been proposed. But she said no purchase price or other details have been settled, and it's still unclear whether they will be able to reach a deal with the city that is financially feasible for the all-volunteer nonprofit.

"I hope they see the value in what we do here," Leach said.

The Humane Society board is meeting Friday evening and city and society officials are planning to meet again next week.

One of the two buildings the Humane Society has been using rent free was built by the organization and Leach said she hopes it is deducted from the prospective sale price.

Leach said she is cautiously hopeful based on a statement made by the mayor:

"We continue to support the Humane Society," Sturm said Tuesday. "We always have and we always will."

The Humane Society is holding off on organizing a fundraising campaign until a sale price has been determined, Leach said. In the meantime, she said allies can help by contacting the city to express their support.

It's still unclear what prompted the city to ask the organization to leave. Society leaders said they have not been given a reason and the city has only issued statements that did not provide an explanation.

One statement said: "We want to continue our relationship and support of WCHS but it is no longer appropriate for the city to serve as their landlord."