Proposal to replace obsolete facility with center that consolidates County youth services under one roof
StoryKing County moved a step closer toward the construction of a new juvenile youth facility with today’s adoption by the Metropolitan King County Council of a motion accepting the Superior Court targeted Juvenile and Youth Facilities Master Plan.
“An excellent justice system is the cornerstone of county government,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson. “The Council’s action today sets a responsible course for ensuring the future of a model Superior Court, that will replace a dilapidated youth services facility, effectively consolidate legal issues involving children, and meet the growing juvenile and family law needs in King County.”
“This plan represents an opportunity to move juvenile and family court cases out of wretched, undignified conditions into a new, more efficient, and professional facility where services can be consolidated under one roof,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, whose district includes the Youth Services Center. “It’s also an opportunity to design a facility that fits better with the surrounding community. Now the challenge is to find a responsible, affordable way to pay for building and operating a new facility.”
“I was pleased to work with the Executive and the Judges to finally make a decision to move this very important project forward,” said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, chair of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. “It was quite an effort to bring everyone together in a shared vision but we finally got it done.”
The County’s Youth Services Center, located on 12th and Alder, houses the County’s youth detention facility along with some juvenile and family court services. The aging facility has been recommended for replacement because of its dilapidated condition. Sections of the facility are roughly 40 years old and have significant major maintenance needs, in excess of $20 million in deferred maintenance alone.
Stakeholder groups have been meeting with the County about whether to build a new youth center and, if one is built, what services would be housed in the facility. A facilities master plan with several options was created out of the conversations with the stakeholders.
The adopted motion supports the option to replace the youth center with a facility that will consolidate the majority of youth and family court services at the Alder location. The preliminary cost of the new facility is $140 million, but the motion calls for the Executive and the Superior Court to review the proposed size of the facility in an effort to reduce capital and operational costs.
“After several years of review, I am confident that this plan builds a system for coordinating and facilitating juvenile and family justice in the most fair and effective manner possible,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Law and Justice Committee. “Flood damage, overcrowding and age have pushed the existing facility past it’s useful life. Now, we have the opportunity to consolidate justice programs in a facility that will improve security and better serve the needs of children and families facing personal challenges.”
“A new juvenile court facility will allow us to consolidate important services to our youth and their families,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “In the long run, we will save money and build a facility that will provide a safe and healthy physical environment for our employees and those that use the Youth Services Center.”