Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Hearing set on land purchase for new jail

Staff Writer | October 13, 2021 1:05 AM

EPHRATA — Grant County commissioners will have a public hearing at 3:10 p.m. Oct. 19 for reaction to a proposed budget extension to allow the purchase of 86.9 acres of land – which includes the Ephrata Raceway Park – as the tentative site of the new Grant County Jail.

The proposed purchase price is $785,000 for three parcels, to be paid for with funds set aside to build the new jail.

Grant County voters approved a three-tenths of 1% law and justice sales tax increase in 2019.

Construction of the new jail is to be paid for at least partly by money collected through the tax increase.

One of the three parcels is 29.99 acres and is owned by Sun Basin Raceway LLC, the Ephrata Raceway Park (14156 Road B.3 NW), which has been closed since 2017. The property has an assessed value of $323,920.

The other two parcels are owned by Richard Boness, of McKenna, Washington, and are undeveloped. One is located between the race track and state Route 282, which has an assessed value of $167,895. The second is across from the race track on Road B.3 and has an assessed value of $109,000.

“I think it’s a good spot,” said Grant County Central Services director Tom Gaines. “I think it’s a good price for the land.”

The Road B.3 Northwest property is the second proposed site. Originally, county officials proposed building the jail at the site of the county’s work release facility, 1631 E. Division Ave. in Ephrata.

The county owned about 3 acres of land at the site and proposed buying additional land from the Port of Ephrata. County officials asked about buying 3 acres at the site, then inquired about buying about 4 more acres in a meeting with port officials in June.

But Ephrata port commissioners decided against selling the land in late August.

County officials hired CRA Architects, of Tallahassee, Florida, to design the new jail. Some preliminary planning and design is underway, but the final design is awaiting site selection.

Capacity of the new jail is still to be determined, as well as services to be offered there. Among the options are an onsite courtroom and a behavioral health unit.

The public hearing will be at the Grant County Courthouse/Commission Chambers at 35 C St. NW, on the first floor, Room 101, and online. Visit closer to the hearing date for information on how to attend virtually.