The campaign season for a new Spokane County correctional facility has officially begun.
On Tuesday, county commissioners approved the spending of $62,000 for a public relations firm to assist in getting word out on the need for a new, expanded jail to supplement the aging facility adjacent to the courthouse.
And earlier in the day, the board got a briefing to better prepare for next Wednesday’s public hearing on the top three potential sites for the jail.
There are, however, some details the commissioners hope to lock down before they are prepared to move forward with announcing their final choice for location for the corrections center. And they also want to make sure the city of Spokane is also on board with the county’s plans.
At Tuesday morning’s CEO meeting, the commissioners weighed in on the city of Spokane’s intention to investigate the possibility of constructing its own minimum-security facility rather than continue to pay and partner with the county to incarcerate low-level offenders.
David Bennett, a Utah-based consultant the county has charged with heading program development for the new jail, said that even if Spokane goes alone, all it will really mean for the county is that it will have to accommodate about 100 or so less inmates.
“No way is it cost-efficient (for the city) to have a separate facility,” Bennett said. “Whatever the issue is, we’re equipped to handle it.”
Bennett did add, however, that he is encourage that, philosophically, the city of Spokane seems to be “on the same page” with the county as far as “minimizing the use of incarceration and maximizing the use of programs.”
A community corrections center to be built in conjunction with the new jail is a key component of the new corrections center plans. Just where that facility is built – either at the courthouse or a rural site – will have some impact on the final price tag. A six-story tower built the existing facility at the courthouse is expected to cost $265.7 million. A campus-like one-story facility – to be built in “pods,” as needed – will cost $226.8 million initially at a gravel pit in Airway Heights and $229 million at the Medical Lake interchange.
Parking, too, would be an issue at the downtown location. A parking garage, which could run $14 million, would need to be built to accommodate both the jail and existing parking spots that would be lost during construction and the siting of the community corrections center.
It is also more expensive – up to $40 a space monthly – to maintain a parking garage vs. a flat outdoor parking lot, which would be built at one of the rural sites.
Want to go?
The public hearing on the top three locations for a new medium-security corrections facility for Spokane County will be held Wednesday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. in the downstairs hearing room of the Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave. For more information, call 477-2265.