January 25, 1995 in City

Medical Lake Center Faces Setback Backers Optimistic Despite Official Criticisms

By The Spokesman-Review

Regional leaders remained optimistic about the prospects for establishing a juvenile detention center at Medical Lake despite a cold sprinkle Tuesday.

Davenport Mayor Carr Killin said he doesn’t think the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or other requirements can derail a plan to put a regional detention center in an unused residential building on the Eastern State Hospital campus.

Killin is chairman of a task force of Eastern Washington city and county officials who think the mental hospital’s vacant Martin Hall may be the answer to a critical shortage of juvenile detention space throughout the region.

“This is very doable,” said Scott Ryman, a division director in the Spokane County Juvenile Department who toured Martin Hall on Tuesday.

Ryman said conversations with three architects convinced him the stately 61-year-old brick building is solid and can be renovated affordably.

“If it doesn’t fly as a detention center, I’ll turn it into a bed-andbreakfast,” he joked.

Spokane architect Kim Barnard, one of two who toured the building Tuesday, said he saw no red flags for the project.

State representatives, however, expressed concern during a tour Tuesday that doorways would have to be widened and other measures would be needed to make the building accessible to wheelchairs.

Seattle consultant Merlyn Bell, who was hired by the state to evaluate the building, also said toilets would have to be installed in each cell or cell doors would have to remain unlocked. She said that’s a new recommendation of the American Correctional Association.

The Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center has many locked cells without toilets, but Bell said any new facility should follow the latest guidelines.

Bell and Rosalie McHale, program coordinator for the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, declined to comment further on their observations Tuesday.

Their report, which may be completed within two weeks, could be influential in efforts to persuade Gov. Mike Lowry and the Legislature to provide the building at little or no cost.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email