Two potential jail sites scrapped

But four new ones appear: In Seattle, Bellevue, Shoreline and Redmond

By HECTOR CASTRO
P-I REPORTER
Last updated November 20, 2008 9:54 p.m. PT
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/388709_jail21.html

Planners have eliminated two candidates out of four in Seattle that were potential locations for a new regional jail, and now Bellevue, Shoreline and an area near Redmond are under consideration.

“Nobody would like to have a jail in their city or their community, but this is something we have to do,” said Scott MacColl, manager of intergovernmental relations for Shoreline.

At a news briefing Thursday, city leaders identified a total of six possible locations for a new jail. They are:

  • The King County jail annex property at Fifth Avenue and Jefferson Street in Seattle. 
  • 1600 W. Armory Way in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. 
  • Land at Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way Southwest in Seattle. 
  • A vacant school at 2545 N.E. 200th St. in Shoreline. 
  • Property at 555 116th Ave. N.E. in Bellevue. 
  • Property at 13225 N.E. 126th Place near Redmond. 
  •  

    No longer on the list are properties at 9501 Myers Way S. and 11762 Aurora Ave. N., both in Seattle.

    Catherine Cornwall, a senior policy adviser for Seattle, said those sites fell out of favor as the review progressed. For example, she said, the Myers Way property turned out to have a wetlands area that was more extensive than initially believed, reducing the amount of buildable space.

    The same is likely to happen with some of the six locations now being weighed. But no location is considered better than any other at the moment, Cornwall said.

    The prospect of a new jail is not one welcomed by any city official, and at community meetings held in Seattle last summer, residents made it clear they weren’t crazy about the idea, either.

    Most cities pay the county to hold their misdemeanor offenders — those arrested for offenses such as drunken driving, theft or domestic violence.

    But county jail space is running low, and Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention officials have said they must focus on jailing felons and accused felons. By 2012, the county expects to run out of room for city inmates altogether.

    “We’re losing just about all of our jail space,” Cornwall said.

    In response, several cities in South King County began working on plans to build a new, 680- bed jail. About 20 cities in north and east King County joined with Seattle in a separate effort to build a 640-bed jail, estimated to cost $174 million.

    Two of the Seattle sites have been previously suggested. They include a triangular plot of land in Interbay and a 10-acre parcel on West Marginal Way Southwest.

    Four new sites have joined the mix.

    The location in Shoreline is the farthest north and is the site of a vacant school. The land already has been deemed surplus by the Shoreline School District, MacColl said.

    The property in Bellevue is next to Interstate 405. Most of it is property the city bought earlier for the extension of Northeast Sixth Avenue.

    One site, in unincorporated King County, is near Kirkland and Redmond and is owned by Waste Management, primarily for office space.

    The fourth new site is county-owned property on Fifth Avenue where a jail annex could one day be built. Now, it is being suggested as a possible location for a building that would give the county more room for its inmates, as well as for the cities.

    Seattle officials already have held public forums on the sites in their city, with the exception of the downtown site. A public forum to discuss that location will be held Dec. 3 at City Hall.

    Other meetings will be held in Woodinville, Shoreline and Bellevue to discuss the remaining locations in those communities.

    In January, six meetings will be held to gather public input on the environmental impacts of the sites. A draft report on those issues should be complete by next summer. A final decision on where the jail will be built should be reached by 2010.

    P-I reporter Hector Castro can be reached at 206-448-8334 or hectorcastro@seattlepi.com.

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