"Not in our neighborhood" was the clear message heard by City of Seattle and King County officials and staff at a crowded meeting last Thursday on the potential siting of a jail in Interbay.
Around 160 people packed the Catharine Blaine School cafeteria at the meeting co-sponsored by the Magnolia Community Club and the Queen Anne Community Council.
The meeting started with an announcement by Nancy Rogers, president of the Magnolia Community Club, that they had researched the jail site issue, met with City staff and the Club had made the decision to take a position against the Interbay site. The announcement was greeted with loud applause.
From an original list of 35 potential locations, the City analyzed each site and selected four as the most viable: 11762 Aurora Ave. N.; 1600 W. Armory Way; Highland Park S.W. and W. Marginal Way and 9501 Myers Way S.
Catherine Cornwall, a senior policy adviser with the City's Office of Policy and Management, explained that because King County plans on stopping the acceptance of misdemeanor inmates in 2013, Seattle and other cities currently serviced by King County have to make other arrangements for housing their misdemeanants. "We've been asking for an extension of the existing contract," said Cornwall. "If the County can figure out a way, we'll be the first ones to sign up!"
She went on to say that the City is also exploring the option of building and operating a new jail together with eastside and northern cities.
Another round of applause came after Magnolia resident and King County Councilmember Larry Phillips told the crowd: "I'm opposed to this at Interbay. We need to find a different solution." He went on to say that he is asking King County Executive Ron Sims for that extension.
Neighbors weighed in on their concerns about the proposed jail location which included worries about property values going down, effects on increasing neighborhood development in Interbay to a suggestion that the jail site be located in Eastern Washington.
In a letter to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Phillips cited some of his reasons for opposing the Interbay location including the fact that there are nine parks within one mile of the proposed site with three playfields used for youth soccer and Little League games and there are four schools within one-and-a-half miles of the site, including three elementary schools.
He told the crowd, "I hope we can convince the City not to go in this direction."
The City's plan is to have a location selected by the end of the year and issue a draft environmental impact statement by January 2009. The City wants the jail built by 2012 and ready for occupancy by January 2013.[[In-content Ad]]