Juvenile Hall is tentative gift
This gift might not fit under the tree.
El Dorado County is anxious to give a $9 million juvenile hall to South Lake Tahoe, but City Council is leery of the land chosen as a primary building site.
The site causing concern is 1.6 acres of parking lot next to the justice center on Johnson Boulevard. The plot is owned, through a joint-use agreement, by the city and the county.
The problem is the county needs the city’s permission to build on it by May 17. If they don’t secure the property or another site by that deadline, $4,020,000 in grant money will vanish.
The county has been eyeing the California Board of Corrections grant money for several years. Last month the board indicated El Dorado County is in line to receive the money.
Tuesday night, county officials tried to explain their predicament to City Council. Council members expressed a desire to build a hall, but clearly felt rushed by the proposal.
“Undeniably, juvenile crime rate is about out of control,” said Councilman Bill Crawford. “We need a facility but it should not be implied by anybody, if the deal can’t be made, that somehow the city is responsible for not getting the grant. It was only yesterday I received information of this second site. The city did not create this problem, if there is a problem.”
To meet environmental requirements, the county has to submit two sites as possible spots to build. The second site targeted is a 4-acre plot of land next to the jail but that land is owned by Lake Tahoe Unified School District. The county will not be able to secure the land before the deadline.
“The committee has to review projected school enrollment and determine if there is surplus space,” said Steve Morales, Lake Tahoe Unified School District facilities director. “We are having appraisals conducted on the property. I believe our committee could make findings as early as June 22.”
So now the burden is on the city’s shoulders.
Mayor Hal Cole and Councilwoman Brooke Laine plan to meet, in closed negotiations, with county officials Friday at 1 p.m. At the meeting they expect to hash out issues related to the 1.6 acre site.
The City Council may make a decision regarding the land when it next meets May 15.
Tuesday night, Councilman Tom Davis summed up the situation with a quip: “We’re just not used to things moving this fast. It took 10 years for redevelopment and we’re taking a week to build a juvenile hall.”
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