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Upcoming forum to discuss proposed ballot measure for Children and Family Justice Center

Summary

Proposal would ask voters to fund needed replacement of dilapidated juvenile court buildings and inefficient detention center

Story

Metropolitan King County Councilmembers who are part of the bipartisan coalition supporting a ballot measure that would ask voters to fund construction of a new Children and Family Justice Center will participate in a forum on the proposal hosted by Seattle University.

Councilmembers Bob Ferguson, Kathy Lambert and Larry Gossett will join other speakers on the campus of Seattle University on Thursday, April 5:

Thursday, April 5
1:30-3:30 p.m.
Wyckoff Auditorium, Seattle University Campus
900 Broadway, Seattle

“The proposed Children and Family Justice Center is a major investment and critical component of our justice system,” said  Ferguson, prime sponsor of the proposed measure. “The upcoming community forum gives us an important opportunity to hear directly from the public and discuss the proposal.”

“This proposed facility will allow us to implement a more effective and efficient model for integrating family court and alternatives that support our youth and families,” said Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “This opportunity can transform the site finally into a safe, welcoming place where justice is served and that also enhances the neighborhood.”

“We will be discussing a project that will have a direct impact on two communities,” said Gossett, Chair of the County Council. “If approved by voters, this is a plan that would change the face of juvenile services in King County. It will also play a role in the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood where the forum is being held, so we need the public to be involved in this process.”

The forum will give the public an opportunity to review and discuss the proposal, which is currently before the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

Earlier this month, Councilmembers Ferguson, Lambert, Gossett, Joe McDermott and Larry Phillips introduced legislation that, if adopted, would ask the voters on the August election ballot to approve a nine-year property tax levy lid lift of seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The levy would raise approximately $200 million for construction of a new Children and Family Justice Center.

The proposed Children and Family Justice Center would replace the dilapidated King County Youth Services Center on its current site of 12th Avenue and Alder Street in Seattle. The center is the County’s central facility for cases involving children, which are among the most stressful for families—juvenile offender cases, child abandonment, abuse and neglect cases, and cases involving runaways.

Replacement of the current facility, sections of which are 60 years old, has been the County’s highest-priority capital project since 2008. Problems at the facility include:

• The electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems are beyond repair;
• The County has spent millions addressing lingering mold and moisture problems caused by a flood in 2006;
• The discovery of toxic PCBs in the facility’s window caulking required the relocation of employees and court services while the County remediated the hazardous materials;
• The facility is not designed to address the types of safety issues that arise from emotional cases involving families and children;
• Courtrooms and waiting areas are small and overcrowded, creating a noisy, hectic and confusing environment; and
• There are no private meeting rooms, leaving families to meet with their attorneys and caseworkers in the lobby and public hallways to discuss sensitive, private matters.



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