Update On Des Moines’ Proposed SCORE Jail


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Above are two images split up from an architect’s rendering of what Des Moines’ proposed new $80 million dollar SCORE Midemeanor Jail might look like.

As we reported previously, on Thursday, Feb. 26th, seven south King County cities (including Burien and Des Moines) announced plans to build a 668-bed misdemeanor jail near Des Moines Creek Park on a 14-acre parcel owned by the Port of Seattle, located southwest of where South 208th Street intersects with 18th Avenue South.

According to SCORE, the fenced, heavily wooded location is not practical for other development, and has been overrun by trespassers and is scattered with their left-behind garbage. The facility is expected to be under construction late in 2009, and the building of it is estimated to take 21 months; under this schedule the jail should be ready to open mid to late 2011.

Des Moines Mayor Bob Sheckler says, “SCORE is another example of cities in South King County working together to solve problems we all share. We’ve found that we are able to come up with creative, cost effective solutions to difficult issues and problems when we work together as equal partners.”

Sheckler currently chairs the Highline Forum, a group of South King County cities and the Highline School District that works with Sea-Tac International Airport to promote mutual economic interests and address local environmental issues.

The jail will employ around 120 workers, including corrections officers, medical staff and administrative personnel.

Most of the inmates who will be housed in the SCORE facility will have been arrested or sentenced to jail time for property crimes such as theft, driving offenses, and criminal trespass. The average length of stay for these inmates is approximately 14 days.

SCORE plans to create a unique release strategy that will return inmates to the city in which they were arrested or living when they are released. Inmates will not be released into the surrounding neighborhoods.

So, the jail will house nearly 700 misdemeanor criminals, who will apparently be released back to whence they came.

What do YOU think of Des Moines “scoring” this new jail? Please Comment below…

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Comments

52 Responses to “Update On Des Moines’ Proposed SCORE Jail”
  1. Carol Burnham says:

    There isn't garbage on that property from what I can see. I go there frequently to mountain bike. There are a lot of people who enjoy that property for recreational use. There is so little areas left for people to hike, walk their dogs or in this case ride their mountain bikes. It's a shame to see this converted into another jail. We have precious few trails left in our area….I say protect the recreational use of this area. It's too loud for a jail anyway. The airplanes leave constantly and fly over head- which is why this community was eliminated in the first place. It is too noisy. The inmates will go crazy with constant fight noise! I say stop the development.

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  2. Lisa Miller says:

    Your representation of this property is considerably inaccurate and it is obvious to me that SCORE has not spent any real time at the proposed Des Moines Creek site. I can understand from a developer's point of view why this property would be desirable for your intended use, I am a developer myself, but that park is heavily used by mountain bikers, trail runners, dog walkers and other outdoor recreation groups. There is a whole community of users out there that are respectible tax paying citizens and displacing these user groups must be heavily considered. AT A MINIMUM, SCORE SHOULD OFFER THESE USER GROUPS A MITIGATION PLAN.

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  3. Lisa Miller says:

    In response to the above statement – " Mayor Bob Sheckler says, “SCORE is another example of cities in South King County working together to solve problems we all share. We’ve found that we are able to come up with creative, cost effective solutions to difficult issues and problems when we work together as equal partners.”" my response is this: Mr. Shecker, why were members of your city and existing user groups that use this park every day and value and cherish it not partnered with when you formulated your "creative, cost effective solution"? COST – the cost of spending time outdoors participating in a healthly lifestyle is pricessless and it's benefits reach far beyond dollars and cents. Did you factor that in your effective plan?

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  4. Ryan says:

    To lose this valuable recreation area would be a true shame. I frequently use the park myself and have seen it to be one of the most popular and heavily used local parks, the loss of which would effect for more people than Mayor Sheckler would let on.

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  5. Joe Schliesman says:

    I use this park as well, for mountain biking. It is a valuable open space in an area lacking many of the attributes it posses, which is why it is so popular. With Dashpoint Park in possible financial limbo, why start another jail project in what could be an increasingly popular place? If I recall, King Co. sued Yakima Co. so that they would open their jail to west side criminals. And, If I recall correct, the reason the county sued Yakima was because Yakima found that so many jails were being built there was excessive space to put criminals and they couldn't make money off it, which was the sole purpose of that jail (It turned out to be a great example of what is wrong with the good ol'boy system). So why another jail? My last comment would be considered improbable by many, but looking at those architectural drawings, there are many, many vacant warehouses in dirty, rotten industrial areas ranging from Seattle to Tacoma that look exactly like this, why not use them? A fence, some guards, poof – Instant Jail – Just ask Yakima they made a tilt-up jail. (and maybe we would actually save some MONEY that way) Improbable indeed.

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  6. LeRoi Smith says:

    When I first read this article, I had difficulty believing they were discussing the same area in which I go mountain biking frequently. In describing the property as "vacant" the clear implication is that it is unused. This could not be further from the truth. I'd be willing to hazard that if a use study was conducted over a decent length of time (i.e. not confined to the dead of winter), you'd find that this area is quite well used for recreational activities, primarily hiking, trail running and mountain biking, that are difficult to replace in an urban setting. Preserving and promoting multi-use open space should be a priority for the municipalities involved.

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  7. Amanda Schmidt says:

    My husband and I regularly mountain bike (on our own and for races, both cyclocross and mountain biking) in the park. This is not a vacant or unused area. I find it depressing that the county will decide to reply to all the NIMBY (not in my backyard) complaints about other places to put a jail by putting it in one of the most valuable community resources in the county – open space. It is reprehensible that the county would decide that it is worth tearing up a beautiful open space which provides recreational space for so many people to put a jail in simply because people do not want the jail in their own backyards. Is it really better to put a jail in everyone's backyard? In such a developed and urban area, many people do not have access to their own large and personal greenspace. The county and city parks are all we have left. There are only a few of them which are truly multi-use in allowing cyclists, joggers, and hikers. To destroy one of these few parks really is ruining everyone's backyard.

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  8. Todd Armstrong says:

    I'm writing from Spokane Washington. I've been going over annually and riding mountain bikes in that area for over 10 years. I would hate to see it taken away. The 'locals' keep it in very good condition and have done untold hours of trail maintenace. Please put the prison someplace else.

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  9. little old lady says:

    Once again our area is being dumped on! We seem to be the popular area for increased airport noise, a jail, low income housing, etc, with a greater reduction in our already minimal recreational opportunities.

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  10. little old lady says:

    Once again our area is being dumped on! We seem to be the popular area for increased airport noise, a jail, low income housing, etc, with a greater reduction in our already minimal recreational opportunities.

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  11. Kristen Crupi says:

    I also regularly use this area for mountain biking or cyclocross and am very concerned about the impact that this project will have on such a great urban park. Jails and other such facilities must go somewhere, but the City of Des Moines and the Port of Seattle must also ensure that the impact to the surrounding and greater community is minimal – starting with ensuring continued access to park amenities and designating adjacent areas as open space (free from further development).

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  12. Loren Hanson says:

    "According to SCORE, the fenced, heavily wooded location is not practical for other development, and has been overrun by trespassers and is scattered with their left-behind garbage." We were there last night and did not see a single item of garbage on the ground. We have been using the park for 10 years or so, and I don't ever seeing scattered garbage. When was the last time you were there Mr. Sheckler? Destroying this great park would be a shame.

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  13. Todd Morse Tucker says:

    I too use the park often for mountain biking. I would truly be ashame to lose such a great park. I would like to invite Mayor Sheckler to come out for a mountain bike ride in the park. I will get you a bike to ride if you do not have one Mayor. Maybe using the park will help you to see what a monumental mistake it will be to destroy it.

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  14. Oly Rider says:

    Ditto, ditto, ditto. Like many people, despite the fact that I live in Olympia, I use the park often. I learned to mountain bike at this park, regularly attend races at the park and have directed countless people looking for a good place to bike to the park. On any given visit to the park I see runners, families out walking their dogs, and cyclists out enjoying the space. The site map shows the actual site as being a small portion of the park but it is unclear what will happen to the rest of the space. This park is an important and well-loved community space and deserves to be protected.

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  15. TONY L says:

    I understand the need for a Jail. Where's the win win? Build a jail in back but leave the remainder of the park alone. King county can then offer up some help making the rest of the park (east of the creek) more accesible for users.

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  16. dan norton says:

    This is entirely about money, who has it and who doesnt. The need for a new jail is debatable and the idea has floated thru several communitys over the years. I sure would not want to own a house adjacent to the new jail as I am sure property values will plummet. The area has been on the increase with many people accessing the recreational aspects in the area. Kiss that goodbye. My guess is that the mayor will not win any votes for this. The jail is built, he looses an election and goes to work for a jail consulting firm. As for other mis-conceptions about the area, What garbage ? Volunteer groups keep the trails very clean. More people are in this park in the summer months, riding, walking and enjoying the woods than at other area parks.

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  17. Brian Volkert says:

    Des Moines, Burien and Normandy Park residents and landowners need an education on the impact of the proposed jail. Review Scorejail.org. The $80 million to build the facility is all debt. In the financial crisis of 2009 do we fund jails but not schools, fund jails but not universities, fund jails but not public hospitals? Read the study on the probability of increased crime in the area and the decline in property values. You need to be involved. We need to hold our elected officials and ourselves accountable.

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  18. Mark Landsaat says:

    No please don't build a jail on this site. The Des Moines Creek site is a fantastic recreational area close to the city. I personally use the area to walk my dog and to go mountain biking regularly. There are very few areas where we can go and it would be a shame to see another one go away. I can also vouch for the fact that volunteer groups pick up the garbage. I would encourage any city official to actually use the park and enjoy the trails that are there before starting the construction of a jail

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  19. Bob Shishka says:

    Come on guys. These suits know what’s up. They’re just planning ahead. You see; when there’s nothing left to do around here but commit crimes, the cities will need more places to warehouse the additional criminals.

    WAKE UP YOU IDIOTS!!! Shouldn’t you be more concerned with the quality of life for the law-abiding residents in the communities you supposedly look out for and oversee? We should be tearing jails down or converting them into rec centers for “at risk” youth; not building more. You can’t think of a better way to spend 80 million of our tax dollars? You should spend 40 million on adding to the quality of life in this area and create 120 jobs for people to oversee chain gangs. Get those guys out doing something to improve our cities and to earn their keep. The rest of us have to.

    If I see prisoners at South SeaTac, I hope they’ll be chained together and picking up trash (wherever that is) and building and maintaining trails. Not relaxing, lifting weights and watching TV programming that I can’t afford for myself in an 80 million dollar facility that I’m paying for.

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  20. Paul Giarratano says:

    Look, the jail isn't going to work, anyway. The general contractor who builds it is going to do a terrible job, the change orders alone will go over budget, and the prisoners who will get to live there won't even like it. The park really should stay the way it is – dozing it in the name of justice, or the lack thereof, is just going add to the decline of western civilization. We just want to be able to ride our bikes!

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  21. Peter Oven says:

    It is too bad that these politicians are going to destroy valuable urban open space. If they are determined to pave over everything we might as well be living in LA or New York.

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  22. Ali Ritter says:

    This space has been absurdly mischaracterized. I've been mountain biking here for years and I've never noticed trash. There is a huge, tax-paying community of people who ride bikes, walk dogs, have picnics, bring kids out, enjoy local nature, and use the space daily. There has to be another spot where the jail can be built. These kinds of projects need to be the result of long-term thinking, and building over a rare park in such a heavily populated area is not the answer. If the jail is built here, then the city will lose a lot of incidental business. I know I've spent a lot of money on gas, food, coffee, bike parts, and random drive-by shopping here. Where are you going to find the land for any price where you can have all these healthy, happy, family-oriented activities?

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  23. Taro Sakita says:

    REALLY! During these time when teachers are being let go and in mates released early to balance the budget, building a “short term” jail for 80 million dollars seems ludicrous! The area in question is one of the best places to mountain bike which is close to Seattle and has multiple recreational uses!
    Here is an idea, since they’re planning on releasing inmates early at other jail facilities, and since the inmates that would use the “NEW” jail would be short term, why not have the short term inmates join the main population of a real jail. It just might scare them straight! my 2 cents!

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  24. Jason Edens says:

    It's interesting that in this time of significant budget shortfalls the County ($93 million in the red) and they have adopted a budget that makes cuts to the Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney and the courts, provides only six months of funding to many public health programs, we as taxpayers feel that the time is right to fund a project such as this. The addition of 120 jobs (some that will not be residents of the County or surrounding Cities) is miniscule when compared to the looming lay-offs of Boeing, WAMU, etc. Short sighted investment and decreased quality of life with benefit directed to a very small group of people.

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  25. This is something I can really get behind. Why kill valuable park space when we can utilize abandoned retail space.

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  26. Tom says:

    Rather than being destroyed, this park should be held up as a model for how great a true community park can be. There is no costly grounds keepers or administration fees. It cost's virtually nothing to just leave it as it is. I love this place, as does my 8 year old son, who can ride his bike on most of the rolling twisting trails. Every time he goes he has a great time, and I do too.

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  27. Elizabeth Salvo says:

    For years I have regularly mountain biked with my kids in this park. It is a wonderful place where the kids have learned that exercise can be fun. In an age of obesity, sedentary behaviors, and lots of video games, to take away a park where the kids want to ride is surely a crime…

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  28. Wes Wahlin says:

    This park is a vibrant and secluded mecca for biking and hiking which is an urban wonderland. if you love your kids and dogs, build up this park, you might get re-elected. Build a prison and I doubt you'll find any votes.

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  29. citizen_kane says:

    It would be a terrible tragedy to build a jail here! Why can't they do a feasability study and weigh this location against one of the vast expanses of abandoned retail space along 99? You know, one of those dilapidated parking lots that actually HAS trash all over it? Paving over one of the last bastions of urban sanctuary is assinine and these so-called "leaders" should be voted out of office for even suggesting it.

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  30. Mimy Bailey says:

    This is not a park overrun with trespassers and garbage! The number of places to mountain bike close to the City are few. It would be a loss to a large and growing community of healthy, civic-minded, tax paying mountain bikers who utilize this space in a positive way.

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  31. Amanda says:

    It's all been said, but it's true. This is a clean, green park. I drive down from north of Seattle to use the trails for biking and to come for bike races. I have yet to see any trash left behind or "trespassers". Unless small children bicycling with their parents are considered trespassers. There are plenty of run down industrial or otherwise developed places that could be used as, and might actually benefit from, a jail site. Destroying one of our few precious natural and recreational spaces is unconscionable. And what makes a town and it's property values more attractive – a large park or a jail?

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  32. jenny dailey says:

    i train and race cyclocross at this park, it is really vast and pretty. there is nothing really like it in the city limits. tearing this down to build a jail is like tearing the space needle down to build a McDonalds. UNNECESSARY and frankly, a slap in the face.

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  33. Laura Fife says:

    This is a terrible idea! I seriously doubt that the planners even looked at this park in person. If they had, they would have seen the following:
    -Volunteers working tirelessly, using their own tools and hard labor to keep the vegetation clipped back and the trails raked
    -Kids and their parents biking the trails
    -Birdwatchers
    -People walking their dogs
    -Paintballers
    -Mountain bike and cyclocross races with easily 100-plus people participating and watching the races at any given time, socializing, having barbeques, enjoying this special community-supported space carved out of a previously abandoned and overgrown area

    I bike through this area all the time. I have NEVER seen "trespassers" or trash. The people who use and support this area clean up after themselves. Please re-think this terrible decision and consider the value this unique place has for the large community of people with varied interests who love and use this space every day.

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  34. Lee Smith says:

    One wonders when SCORE performed their study of the Des Moines Creek Park (aka South SeaTac) property, if indeed they actually did study it. Perhaps they relied on ancient information. There is absolutely no truth to the statements about this park being strewn with garbage and overrun with trespassers. Not in my experience, anyway, and I have been using this park on at least a weekly basis for approximately the last 7 years. All my family lives near the park. I first went there with my nephew when he bought his first mountain bike. Since then, I have ridden the trails on my cyclocross bike and my mountain bike on a regular basis, both for training and in scheduled races at the park. I walk my dogs there, and do a little trail running, too. Some selfless individuals, who live nearby, do trail maintenance work at the park every single day, even during the winter. If there used to be garbage and trespassers, those days are long gone! Please don't dump a jail on the unsuspecting south enders! Please preserve Des Moines Creek Park.

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  35. Jodi Connolly says:

    Slow down. Don't make hasty panicked decisions regarding such an enormous facility. This park is an incredible resource. As many have already stated, it is clean, well maintained by volunteers, used by responsible citizens, and provides a green haven in an urban area. Like Ali stated, we have also patronized local businesses when we have gone to the park for bike races.

    Please, officials who are making decisions about this park – come see it. Show up at a race this Saturday April 11, Sunday May 3rd, or any Wed. evening through the summer -and see the people who love this park. At times it may appear unused during the week – but that is because we are all out on the trails, hidden by the trees and hills that make it so beautiful and important. These are the first trails my kids have ever hiked.

    If the project moves forward, save face with the community – plan for the park and the trails to remain. Program with the cycling/park-using community. Lots of brilliant community-minded people. Be creative at a time when the economy and the environment cannot afford hasty selfish decisions. Make the right choice.

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  36. Jason S. says:

    I think we in the NW are being sold a bill of goods…We pay super-high premiums (cost of living) to live in such beauty and green space only to have all the urban green space sacraficed to sprawl or "development".

    And for a jail no less…when the times get tough—the tough go to jail. Wasn't it Scrooge who said something like "are there no poor houses? No jails?"

    This disgusts me and I would be willing to do my part to keep this place open–not just as a patch of green in an urban area but as one of the most active community spaces for the NW cyclocross and mountain bike scene.

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  37. Doug Reid says:

    In all fairness, the majority of us understand the need for jails as well as the concept of "not in my backyard". It is true, none of us want this jail in our backyard and this amazing park/resource IS our backyard. Many of us who utilize this park do so from a relatively great distance – probably more so than most parks – as we come from all over the Greater Seattle Area. Personally, my friends and I ride our bikes in this park for recreating and for racing. This park is often host to regionally, and at times, nationally important bicycle races in which athletes come together from all over the northwest and the nation to compete. The trails in this park are renown and it would be a huge loss for literally thousands of cyclists who race here every year during cyclocross and mountain bike races. Please hear our pleas and save us this great inter-urban resource. Can't you find some crumbling building along International Blvd to tear down and put up your jail: why take away more green space for something like this. If you continue along with your plans I assure you that it will not continue without a fight. Thanks for your consideration.

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  38. Randy Iddings says:

    Its absolutely mind numbing to me why they would take such a beautifull recreational community asset and destroy it. I have been recreating there for 10+ years and have yet to see garbage or transients.

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  39. Kevin says:

    It would be a shame to loose an open area that so many people use for exercise and recreation. Please, leave the park open for the non-incarcerated public!

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  40. Brendan Connolly says:

    The greater Seattle region has one of the greatest scarcities of open space of any major metropolitan city and region, especially for one that brands itself as "emerald". As our population grows, so does the pressure on and need for open space resources for our community. As a cyclist and runner who uses these trails, I am disappointed in the possibility of losing this place. As an architect who focuses on the preservation of our local ecosystems through sustainable development strategies, I am shocked that there is not a more intelligent choice being made here – clearly there are millions of square feet of existing development and disturbed site opporunities that can be retrofitted in this languishing economy for this purpose rather than the creation of new impervious unwated space on top of a beloved community open space. This isn't just about losing trails to ride on or this being a correctional facility…this is about irresponsible planning and erosion of ecosystems and community resources. Please pause to consider what the most sustainable choice would be for the greatest number. It would not be this.

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  41. Evan says:

    Im fourteen and my friends and i go to south seatac frequently
    When not at sstc we have nothing else to do
    This park provides a nice creek for young kids to play in, mountian bike trails, trail running, a huge grass field for frisbee, baseball, football, and many other activites, i cannot stress enough how much difference this place makes in the lives of people that frequent it. i ride whenever i can and if i'm not there riding, i'm thinking of riding.
    there isnt THAT much garbage there.
    the whole community was wiped out because of the plane noise and now you want to put a facility with 700 or so other people there????? THAT DOESNT MAKE SENSE!!!
    america is one of the most obese nations in the world and taking out one of the few and fun recreational parks in the whole area… What will that do for us???
    putting in a jail would be one of the worst decisions made in seattle's history!!!!

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  42. sky says:

    I think it is horrible that they are going to put a jail where south seatac mountain bike park is. This park is an awesome place to go on weekends or on a day that I get off from school to hanging out with my friends and do some good mountain biking. This place is not a place where trespassers go and dump garbage it is a place where families and dedicated mountain bikers go to have fun in the woods in a place where you feel like your away from the city and in the wild. To put a jail here would be awful especially if the inmates only will stay at the jail for a few days. If south seatac park is destroy my friends and I and a lot of people will not have a place to relax and do some good biking close to home instead of taking a 30 plus minute drive somewhere. South seatac has really made me get into biking and we can just let them build a jail on south seatac park.

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  43. Dave says:

    I’ve been mountain biking at South SeaTac Park for over 10 years. It is a wonderful park. It would be a shame to lose this park. People enjoy berry picking, hiking, and birdwatching here. I know that a jail needs to be built, but why destroy a park to build a jail? Many young people go mountain biking in the park. It provides them with a safe place to exercise. I have never seen garbage or transients or drug users in the park, such as a newspaper article claimed. Please find a better place for the jail.

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  44. sky says:

    I just emailed one of the people who was planning to build the score jail and she actually said that the jail was not goiing to be placed in the mountain bike area but to the south and west. I really hope this is true because the mountain bike park is like the only great park in seattle that offers good mountain biking.

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    • Jim says:

      What she told you is a lie. The jail will be built right on top of the flow park and the trails on the north side of the road next to the flow park.
      Notice all he white surveyors tape in the woods, that is the foot print for the jail.
      Don't believe anything they tell you.

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  45. Kris Lepine says:

    The area where the new jail is proposed contains many trials that are used extensively by hikers, dog walkers, and bikers. The trails are used for montain bike and cyclocross races on a regular basis. It would be a huge loss to this recreational community if this area were to be replaced with a jail facility. Instead, why can't this area be turned over to the Parks department?

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  46. Jill says:

    This park is the very center of strong biking group that brings both a sense of community and $$ to Des Moines. It encourages and inspires physical fitness–a trait nationwide studies say is non-existant in our families!! Personally, if the park goes and a jail replaces it, I can't see why I'd spend any of my hard earned $$ or time in Des Moines. I can't afford a boat, hopefully won't be visiting anyone in jail and there is lots of waterfront outside of Des Moines to spend time in.

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  47. sky says:

    you were todally right. They sent me a map of were they were going to put the jail and sure enough its right on the flow park. To everyone that looks at this website and wants to continue to utalize a flow park please send emails to the score jail people asking them to build a new flow park. This is the only option we have left if we still want to be able to do some awesome jumps. Me and my friends are sending emails and we are only in eighth grade so I think all those adults out there should do the same.

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  48. sky says:

    send emails to the score jail people asking them to build a new flow park. Read the comments under sky to learn more.

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  49. Jim from Olympia says:

    This jail will displace runners, hikers and cyclsits. The area is is not a haven for trash, transients or any other exagerated claim made by the article.

    This area is a major recreation resource for the Puget Sound region.

    I can't imagine what the neighbors think of this proposal.

    Who approvs such things without much consideration for public comment? This proposal is shameful.

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  50. Orion from Burien says:

    I just want to echo what many here have already said. The Park is not an abandoned dumping ground, but rather a valuable community resource for recreation. The park is visited daily by mountain bikers, hikers, runners, dog walkers and more. It would be a very sad day to lose access to the Park for the installation of a new Jail. Please find a more appropriate location for the jail.

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  51. Kevin Hinsey says:

    I realize I am late to this party, but I just wanted to comment that you can kiss your bike trails good-bye. Des Moines city council approved the new jail siting so they are moving ahead. This project will make the entire area from 200th south inaccessable as that will be the primary jail access road (18th Ave S) so it will be fenced off. If you had been at the council meeting (and it was a shame that the BMX community was sparsely represented), it was quite obvious that the Des Moines council WANTS the jail.

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