Haller Lake residents want to lock out jail

Reasons given to build elsewhere: Schools, driving range, distance


Residents of Haller Lake understand that Seattle neighborhoods aren’t exactly clamoring for a new jail.

But out of four city-proposed sites, Haller Lake “is the worst,” residents of the North Seattle community said at a meeting Thursday night.

Concerns go well beyond the usual NIMBY responses, said Wilson Stevenson, who is spearheading a group called CAJINS — Citizens Against the Jail in North Seattle.

The proposed seven-acre site, he told the gathering, is too close to schools and homes. A jail, he said, could also draw the wrong crowd, boosting the local crime rate and threatening the area’s status as an urban village.

Stevenson questioned the logic of displacing a thriving business — the Puetz Golf Driving Range on 11762 Aurora Ave. N. — particularly if the city had to resort to eminent domain proceedings.

He also criticized the site as being the smallest and farthest from the King County Courthouse, requiring more fuel-draining trips for attorneys and police.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to put it in Haller Lake,” Stevenson said. “I think we have some good legs to stand on.”

Other residents agreed.

“Even without a jail, we have enough problems with drugs and crime here; we don’t want any more,” said Riza Ryser, the mother of four kids. “There are seven schools plus child cares close by. The area is too populated with residents — I’m surprised the city would even consider it.”

Unlike the other sites, the Haller Lake location would be a blow to the “hub urban village” envisioned in the Broadview-Bitter Lake-Haller Lake neighborhood plan, said Dale Johnson, president of the Broadview Community Council.

“We’ve been trying to create a place like Ballard or Green Lake that accepts more density, but that is an attractive place to live, work, walk, shop and recreate,” he said. “If a jail comes here, instead of going forward, we’ll go backward.”

The meeting, which drew about 250 people, was held at the Haller Lake Community Club, eight blocks north and a few streets east of the proposed jail site. A new 450-bed facility, mandated by the county, aims to house offenders whose crimes are misdemeanors.

Golfers, many of whom have come to the Puetz range since they were young, weren’t supportive of the jail plan.

“I know they have to find a jail site, but it would be a shame to see this driving range go,” said Ed Thenell, who used to golf at Puetz with his dad, and still comes year-round.

“This place is busy all the time; they do a nice job here — it’s a nice atmosphere.”

Nicholas Ericson and Pete Treperinas grew up playing golf at Puetz, competed in high school, and wound up working at the range’s golf shop. They said the family-owned driving range, celebrating its 63rd anniversary this year, “is like family.”

“Why would you want to put a jail here?” Treperinas asked.

“I like my job,” Ericson said. “I don’t want to lose it so they can put a jail here.”

The other sites being considered are 7.7 acres at Interbay (1600 W. Armory Way), 10 acres at Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way Southwest (near the First Avenue South Bridge), and a city-owned 12-acre site at 9501 Myers Way S. adjacent to the Seattle Fire Training facility.

Cindy Potter, of the neighborhood group GAIN (Greenwood Aurora Involved Neighbors), wrote in the recent Haller Lake Community Club newsletter that the Haller Lake site has the greatest number of public and private K-12 schools within a mile.

She named Ingraham High School, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Northgate Elementary, Christ the King Elementary, Haller Lake Children’s Center, Living Wisdom School and Northgate Christian Academy.

Others at the meeting added an eighth school — Lakeside — which is considered part of the Haller Lake area. Its track team, noted one resident, trains by running around Haller Lake.

Some in the audience said the Haller Lake site would be a bad fit for the people locked up, too.

They said the area lacked social services, yet has drugs, prostitution and other crime that could derail offenders as soon as they’re released.

P-I reporter Debera Carlton Harrell can be reached at 206-448-8326 or deberaharrell@seattlepi.com.

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