Asotin County still hopes to build jail near waterfront

·2 min read

Jun. 11—Asotin County commissioners haven't given up on a plan to build a new jail near 14th Street and Port Drive close to Clarkston's waterfront along the Snake River.

The board would like the jail to be constructed at that site, which Asotin County has an option to buy that doesn't expire until later this summer, said Asotin County Commissioner Chris Seubert.

Construction costs would be the least expensive at that lot and it would be the most economical for law enforcement agencies transporting inmates, Seubert said Thursday.

If the commissioners can get what they want is not clear. It's also not clear when they decided the 14th Street and Port Drive site was still their first choice.

In late May, the Clarkston City Council unanimously rejected Asotin County's plan, which requires the city to pass a zone change.

Afterward, Asotin County officials indicated they would likely move forward with a Sixth Avenue location in the Clarkston Heights.

The issue surfaced Thursday because the Port of Clarkston held a public hearing about a North Rivershore District it is considering establishing.

The district would be intended to promote activities such as recreational river access. It would run along the north side of Clarkston and include part of the 6.4-acre proposed jail site.

Asotin County's new jail would be an upgrade and look nice, just like Nez Perce County's jail does, said Dawn Smith, executive director of the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association.

"It would be just such a huge improvement for this horribly little slummy area," she said. "I mean, it's got a terrible feel down here and we all know it."

Port Manager Wanda Keefer disagreed, noting recent construction and the port's Granite Lake Park.

Clarkston port commissioners didn't make a decision about the district or take a formal position about the jail.

"We're letting the public decide," said Port Chairman Wayne Tippett after the meeting. "As a port, we're staying out of it."

What happens next, said Asotin County Commissioner Brian Shinn, is up to the city of Clarkston, which didn't have anyone representing it at the Clarkston port meeting.

"The question now is how can we get the city to change their mind to put the jail where it should be?" Shinn said during the meeting. "So when you think about what you're going to do, I hope you come up with a creative idea to convince them. ... I have never received one legitimate reason for (the city) opposing that site."

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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