The search for a new Spokane County jail site officially has 10 new locations added to the list.
Moving into the functional analysis portion of the Essential Public Facility siting process, the new locations span from Airway Heights to the eastern portion of Spokane Valley. The number of locations will be whittled down, heading into the next step, qualitative analysis, at a meeting Thursday, Oct. 25. The top three sites from this process will be presented to County Commissioners for a final decision.
Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Sparber said the minimum of 10 locations were submitted, allowing the process to move forward. Locations from the previous siting process in 2010, the Medical Lake site off I-90 and the downtown Spokane site, were rolled over into this cycle.
“The Medical Lake exit site is being held constant as a preferred site by the Board of County Commissioners,” Sparber said.
The Medical Lake site, located on White Road, is considered a secondary site for minimum and medium security offenders, as well as medical and mental health-related bookings. In total, it would have 624 beds, with room for an additional 256 beds in the future.
A search for the site was made to find a location that allowed a horizontal construction model, in addition to its potential for expansion. A previous siting process concluded developing at the downtown Spokane campus would create 782 beds, housing the existing jail, a booking area and community corrections center. The Spokane site would need to be built vertically.
Costs for the 10 proposed sites will be evaluated during the 30-day review, and presented at the October public hearing.
Now, the Medical Lake site is in the hands of the board of County Commissioners, Sparber said, undergoing an Urban Growth Area analysis.
The current step in the siting process will look at the population densities in surrounding areas, site design possibilities, potential for associated development and proposed mitigation measures, in addition to others. Scores from the first and second analysis rounds will be added up, with the top three moving forward.
Sites received for the functional analysis were rated on a score of one to five, five being the highest, in 12 categories affecting the location. Size and operating costs held the most weight of the categories.
The 19-acre Geiger Boulevard location, provided on land owned by Spokane International Airport, was rated the highest, scoring 175 points, receiving top scores for the capacity of surrounding public utilities and equitable distribution. It also received good marks for site size, the surrounding environment, transportation capacity and operating costs.
The second-highest score was earned by another privately-owned site just south of the airport runway on West Electric Avenue and South Thomas Mallon Road in Spokane County. The 20-acre site received a score of 167, receiving highest marks for site size, capacity of surrounding public utilities, having consistent existing land use and being compatible with comprehensive plans.
Sites submitted from within the city of Airway Heights held scores of 156 and 148, placing them in the middle of the pack. One is located at the gravel pit directly across from the state’s Airway Heights Corrections Center, giving it lower marks on equitable distribution.
Currently, Spokane County is heavily considering the Geiger Boulevard site, submitted by Spokane International Airport. The county would save an estimated $3.2 million in capital and infrastructure costs if the Medical Lake site wasn’t used, and allows a chance to save on energy costs with a steam-to-energy process from the Waste to Energy Plant to heat a building. A full review of the potential sites, however, will bring all options to the table.
Overall, the process is moving along, and has a number of potentially strong locations.
“I’m happy to have 10 sites to evaluate,” Sparber said. “They’re all the right size, and I’m eager to see how it pans out.”
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.