The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) announced that a site previously identified in Mountlake Terrace for the possible location of a work-release facility won’t be feasible.
“After receiving feedback from the pre-application process with the City of Mountlake Terrace and in consultation with the property owner and our contract consultant, KMB Architects, our evaluation of the site at 7125 224th St. S.W. and the associated requirements indicates that the site cannot be improved to the extent necessary to result in a DOC work-release,” said Mark Kucza, who is a senior administrator with the DOC and project lead for its work-release expansion project.
In 2019, the Washington State Legislature directed the department to identify sites for additional work-release facilities in various regions statewide. That process, which was paused last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed again earlier this year in looking at locations considered underserved or unserved to expand its work-release program throughout the state. Prior to expansion efforts, there were 12 such facilities in the state, but none in Snohomish County.
Work-release facilities are meant to create a smoother transition back into the community for incarcerated people near their release date. Participating inmates are given the opportunity to engage in paid employment or vocational training programs while still remaining under the department’s supervision at the facility when they are not at their job or other pre-approved activities.
One possible site which was identified for Snohomish County is a commercial property that formerly housed the Seabrook Dental Laboratory, located in Mountlake Terrace. The property is situated along the Interurban Trail on a dead-end street, with vehicular access from 222nd Street Southwest in Edmonds near Ranch 99 Market. Other potential location sites in the county including Lynnwood, Everett and Marysville were all previously dismissed based on their zoning.
“Given that this has been the last remaining site under evaluation in Snohomish County under the 2019 DOC work release expansion project efforts, we will be discontinuing siting efforts in Snohomish County,” Kucza noted.
State law requires cities to accommodate “essential public facilities,” such as work-release facilities, and Mountlake Terrace allows this type of facility, with conditions, in the light industrial/office park zone. But the DOC’s committee still had to review the costs associated with leasing the Mountlake Terrace site, which included any improvements that would be required to renovate, repair, remodel or alter the dilapidated site to make it suitable for a work-release program.
“Our team has appreciated the regular participation, dedication and thoughtful consideration everyone involved has provided to the work efforts,” Kucza said. “Work-release/reentry centers under DOC operation play a significant and valuable role in efforts to safely and gradually transition justice-involved persons from prison sentences to stable lives as productive and law-abiding citizens sharing our communities.”
— By Nathan Blackwell