Saturday, May 8, 2010
By Diane Hettrick
King County has dropped plans for a new jail in Shoreline or another north or east King County suburb, according to groups that have been fighting plans for a jail in Shoreline.
The NoShorelineJail group and a leader from the Friends of Aldercrest say that King County Executive Dow Constantine will make an announcement Thursday that the planning for a new north-end jail has been terminated. Following a reevaluation of jail capacity needs and tremendous public opposition, the Northeast cities and the County executive have agreed to a solution that eliminates the need for more jail space in the near future.
NoShorelineJail, whose leadership is from Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park and Shoreline, said on its website that it will now join forces with Friends of Aldercrest to focus on creating a formal park at the Aldercrest location, which has been on the list of sites being considered for a north King county jail.
When King County originally determined that it needed more jail space, each area in the county was required to submit a site for consideration. A county task force, with representatives from across the county, winnowed the sites down to half a dozen for further consideration.
Shoreline City staff members chose the Aldercrest site. Council members at the time claimed to have no knowledge until the location had been submitted.
The site caused an immediate firestorm of protest. The Aldercrest property, the site of the former Kellogg Middle School, belongs to the Shoreline School District, which was not consulted. The school district, faced with huge budget cuts from the State, had declared the property to be surplus and was planning to sell it and use the money to create an endowment fund. Once it was chosen as a possible jail site. the District could do nothing with it until the county and cities jail decision.
The remaining building on the site, the old gym, had been refurbished; it housed school programs from Shoreline, and a regional program with students from the Edmonds School District as well as Shoreline.
The site is two blocks from the King-Snohomish county line and the city of Mountlake Terrace, whose residents were the first to form the No-Jail group. Sheridan Beach residents were concerned about the proximity of a jail and prisoner transport along Ballinger Way. They were joined by other Lake Forest Park residents concerned about a jail just a few blocks from Lake Forest Park, as well as Shoreline residents in the area, and formed the Friends of Aldercrest.
Other neighbors in the area were dismayed at losing the open fields where people had become used to picnicking and kids playing. Large events had been held in the open field. Summer concerts and the neighborhood association outdoor movie night had been staged there.
The Ballinger Neighborhood Association remained neutral and provided opportunities for information to be shared from all sides.
Photo courtesy Friends of Aldercrest