More steps forward for Asotin County Jail | North West

ASOTIN – Asotin County officials have an opportunity to appeal the ongoing action by Clarkston City Council to accept or reject the proposed Port Drive site for a new jail.

However, Commissioner Brian Shinn told town halls that the county was not interested in delaying the process or spending taxpayer money on litigation. Commissioners will discuss the matter in an executive session on Monday.

As the city appears to disagree with the proposed Port Drive site, the county will likely begin building the jail along Sixth Avenue north of the Asotin County regional landfill in Clarkston Heights. This process involves a conditional use permit and a contribution from the county planning commission, but the commissioners have the final say.

The new $ 13.7 million prison is funded by a public safety sales tax, which was approved by Asotin County voters in 2019. The plan is to build a prison with 122 beds, but the size will depend on the amount spent on land preparation. , Said Commissioner Chuck Whitman. The project will not go over budget, the commissioners promised.

At the city level, Clarkston City Clerk Steve Austin said city council could accept or deny the Clarkston Planning Commission factual findings at a public meeting. The city’s planning group voted 3-0 to reject the county’s zoning request on Monday night.

No further public hearings will be held at City Hall, Austin said, clarifying remarks made Monday night by Public Works Director Kevin Poole. The next planning meeting will be at 6 p.m. on May 17 at City Hall, where the group will review the findings of fact and send them to council for approval or denial. After the council has weighed in, the county has 15 days to file an appeal in Asotin County Superior Court, Austin said.

A long court battle would not benefit the citizens of Asotin County, Shinn said in previous meetings, and would delay the voter-approved project. The expected completion date is early 2023.

Replacing the outdated and overcrowded Fifth Street jail has been under discussion for years, and the county has held numerous town halls on the issue. After voters gave the green light to the project, Florida-based architects Clemons, Rutherford and Associates went to work with local law enforcement officials on the designs. The company has built hundreds of correctional facilities across the country.

Those involved in the process were in favor of building the prison on a vacant lot near 14th Street and Port Drive, officials said. The property became available last October.

The potential purchase of $ 1.4 million on 6.4 acres required a non-refundable deposit of $ 14,000, but no further money was spent at the site, county officials said. The property along Sixth Avenue is owned by the county. However, Asotin County officials said the land near the landfill would cost more to prepare a prison and increase transport costs for law enforcement.

In the public sessions, comments from residents were mixed. Some Clarkston Heights residents have raised concerns about traffic, property values ​​and other issues if Sixth Avenue is the ultimate jail location. At the last town hall, an informal audience poll indicated that the majority of those in attendance supported the Port Drive site.

Opponents of the 1401 Port Drive location said a jail could negatively impact future waterfront plans and tourism, and that the city should have been more involved in the site selection.

Overall, the consensus is that the new prison is necessary and must be built somewhere.

About Coy Lewallen

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