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July 11, 2013

County secures two potential jail sites
Voters have the opportunity on the August 6 ballot to decide

MOUNT VERNON – With the approach of an August 6 ballot request to fund a new Skagit County Jail, County Commissioners last week signed purchase offers on two possible jail sites in Mount Vernon.

Both purchase agreements have language in them that allows the county to terminate the agreement at any time, for any reason, without penalty. Both parties understand that only one site will be rezoned and purchased.

“It was a year ago that we formed the Skagit County Public Safety Jail Coordinating Council,” said Project Manager Marc Estvold. “Identification of possible jail sites, and purchase agreements with property owners, were key elements of our mandate to address this critical need.”

Work by the jail council included consideration of possible jail sites near the Skagit County Courthouse in downtown Mount Vernon. Final analysis led to two possible sites: the former location of Alf Christianson Seed Company and a south Mount Vernon site made up of three adjacent parcels including Truck City.

Both sites, said Estvold, are large enough to accommodate plans for a new Skagit County Jail with initial construction for 400 inmate beds, and room to add up to 400 additional beds in the future.

“We are at a crisis level in our current jail due to gross overcrowding,” said Sheriff Will Reichardt . “Our current jail site is landlocked, making expansion impossible. Purchase agreements with the owners of the two possible sites give us the latitude to pursue public input and the permitting that will be necessary to relocate the jail. By pursuing two sites for the new jail we were able to keep land costs competitive as we seek to be good stewards of public funds.”

Prior to signing the purchase agreements, Skagit County hired commercial real estate specialist Troy Muljat to do a market analysis of the two proposed sites and available comparables. Muljat reported his conclusions to the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, who then entered into negotiations with a single owner at the Alf Christianson site and the three separate owners on the site referred to as Truck City.

Negotiations led to approximate purchase prices of $3.1 million on the 10.4-acre Truck City site and $3.1 million on the 8.1-acre Alf Christianson site.

“The market analysis completed by Muljat confirms that these are competitive purchase agreements,” said Estvold. “We are pleased that we can now move forward in the permitting process with the City of Mount Vernon. This process gives the public an invitation to help inform us as to which is the preferred site for a new jail.”

Voters in Skagit County have the opportunity on the August 6 ballot to decide whether to approve a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase to fund construction and operation of a new, 400-bed jail.

The City of Mount Vernon will hold a number of public hearings regarding the two sites. The first of these public hearings, which will be advertised in the Skagit Valley Herald, is expected to be in August.

“We will do limited scope environmental impact studies on both sites,” said Estvold. “The City of Mount Vernon will take public testimony to assist us in determining what issues to study in the limited scope statement. This process will give the public a number of opportunities to provide input and help us in determining the best site for the new jail facility."

Related [Pdf's]:

Model Concept
Alf Christenson Site
Truck City Site