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The state Department of Corrections’ interest in locating a work release site in Mountlake Terrace depends on the results of a lengthy review and permitting process, the DOC said Thursday.
Corrections officials provided an update at the Mountlake Terrace City Council work session on Thursday night.
“Right now, in Snohomish County, we are still in evaluation mode,” said Tony Lindgren, a consultant for DOC, during the presentation.
The state’s work release program serves prisoners who are transitioning back into the community during the last six months of their sentence. The focus of the program is on helping them obtain jobs, connect with family, and build life skills, according to DOC. People in the program are governed by a number of rules about their conduct. Violations can result in a return to prison.
The state Legislature has directed DOC to find new sites it can lease for work release in certain regions including Snohomish County. DOC identified a potential property along the Mountlake Terrace/Edmonds border. The site, 7125 224th Street SW, is along the Interurban Trail. It covers .87 acres on a dead-end street with vehicular access from 224th Street, near 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds.
Under Washington law, cities cannot prohibit certain “essential facilities,” such as DOC’s work release sites. Mountlake Terrace allows work release facilities in the light industry/office park district in which the proposed property is located.
The building dates back to 1983 and was designated as a dental lab, according to county property records. The square-footage is 7,358. That size of building generally could fit up to 30 to 45 beds, as a rough early estimate, Lindgren said.
The property is accessed on the west side via a pedestrian bridge, which spans Hall Creek. The bridge is not currently usable.
If DOC continues having interest in leasing the property for a work release facility, a next step will be for DOC to meet with city staff to discuss the project and identify requirements under state and local building and development codes, Lindgren said. Any decisions on whether to move forward are pending those conversations, along with a DOC public hearing process required by law. That process involves notification to all addresses within a half-mile.
“There’s a long road to travel,” said Mark Kucza, a DOC senior administrator and project lead who spoke to the council. “… We’re not there yet.”
In its search, DOC has to find the right kind of property with the correct zoning, with access to public transit, Kucza said. They believe the Mountlake Terrace site may meet those parameters, he said. However, it can be a lengthy process for property owners to obtain permits and to get construction underway before DOC can begin to pay rent as a tenant. “Lengthy” could mean one to two years, Kucza said.
The Thursday night work session video is posted at www.cityofmlt.com/129.
DOC’s presentation slides can be found at https://bit.ly/3CI84gi. The document provides links to relevant laws, including those regarding public notification and comment, and those requiring cities to accommodate “essential public facilities,” a category that covers work release. The city’s July 16 news release can be found here.