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King County cities break ground on regional jail; completion slated for July 2011

SCORE representatives dig in and break ground on the misdemeanor jail Aug. 10 at the Des Moines site. The jail is scheduled for completion in summer 2011. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
SCORE representatives dig in and break ground on the misdemeanor jail Aug. 10 at the Des Moines site. The jail is scheduled for completion in summer 2011.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

In a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 10, Federal Way and its regional partners celebrated the beginning of construction on a new South King County jail.

Federal Way, Renton, Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Sea-Tac and Tukwila marked their vision and collaboration upon the 830-bed misdemeanant jail, known as South Correctional Entity (SCORE), with words of praise and gold painted shovels. The event took place at the future jail's location, 1801 S. 200th St. in Des Moines.

"We worked collaboratively together to get to a place that most people thought we'd never reach," said Jack Dovey, Federal Way mayor and SCORE's presiding board officer.

Surrounded by dirt, stumps, underbrush and trees, officials from the represented cities touted their ability to work together to solve a regional problem. Disagreements over the jail's design were minimal, Des Moines Mayor Bob Sheckler said.

"Today's a day we've all been looking forward to for the past several years — the official groundbreaking for our jail facility," Sheckler said.

Once completed, the jail will be unintrusive, SCORE interim director Penny Bartley said. The 164,000-square-foot facility will sit on approximately 14 acres of land that is now heavily wooded and fenced. Its walls will be no taller than 20 feet, she said.

The site is ideal for a jail. It is a central location for the partners, but not situated in the middle of a community, Dovey said. Airplanes can be heard flying over the location on a regular basis as they frequent Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The prevalent noise makes other development on the land impractical, according to a SCORE press release. The jail's design will compensate for the persistent noise, Bartley said.

SCORE will help the partner cities manage their jail costs, Dovey said. It will house all misdemeanant inmates. Those with mental or medical conditions, or violent tendencies, will not be transferred to other facilities.

"We will manage the way this service is provided and we will reap the benefits," Sheckler said.

King County jail, where a portion of Federal Way's misdemeanant population resides, does not accept ill, mental or violent inmates. Inmates of this type are transported to Yakima County, where Federal Way and several other regional cities have another jailing contract. The King County and Yakima County contracts are due to expire in 2012 and 2010, respectively.

The $94 million SCORE project is scheduled for completion by July 2011. Federal Way is expected to contribute $16 million for capital construction and around $1.5 million annually for operational costs, chief financial officer Bryant Enge said. This amount is $16,000 per year more than originally expected, due to the facility's larger size. DLR Group is the architect.

"This jail is truly a trendsetter," said Larry Ahern, DLR Group principle. "It's a very simple, straight-forward and quality facility."

Timeline

SCORE timeline, as presented by Federal Way mayor Jack Dovey:

2001: King County tells contracting agencies its capacity is limited.

2002: Regional cities extend their King County jail contract until 2012.

2003: Regional cities extend their Yakima County jail contract until 2010.

2006: King County cities study long-term housing options for misdemeanant inmates.

2006: Regional cities develop SCORE partnership and begin planning process for South King County jail.

2007: King County Jail Task Force recognizes the need for sub-regional jails.

2007: SCORE feasibility study, headed by Renton, begins.

2008: JAG, the policy and law enforcement staff of the task force, endorses SCORE plan.

2008: Burien and Sea-Tac join Federal Way, Renton, Des Moines, Auburn and Tukwila in the project.

2008: SCORE location identified.

2009: SCORE administrative body established. Dovey becomes presiding officer.

2009: SCORE's land-use application is approved by Des Moines city staff.

July 2009: The site is approved and development begins on SCORE.

July 2011: This is the projected completion date for the regional jail.

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