Local juvenile hall closer to reality | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local juvenile hall closer to reality

Having survived the permit process and necessary approvals from a myriad of local, state and federal agencies, the $8.6 million South Lake Tahoe juvenile hall project is almost ready for a May groundbreaking.

Last week, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an environmental report accepting the project as well as the purchase of a 4-acre parcel of land costing about $450,000 from the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

The district’s board of education will vote to officially approve the land sale in its November meeting. It is expected to pass.

The acreage is located behind South Tahoe Middle School and next to El Dorado County Jail.

“It’s certainly something our community needs,” said Lennie Schwartz, school board president.

The facility, which will rest on land dotted with ponderosa pine and sagebrush, will be used for detaining and rehabilitating juveniles housed under minimum to maximum security conditions.

A 12-foot, non-barbed-wire fence will surround the recreation area.

The hall will be staffed by a maximum of 19 employees.

Half the total price of the hall was funded by a $4 million grant from the California Board of Corrections while the remaining portion is being handled by the county.

El Dorado County competed against numerous counties for a handful of grants. The project, which has been in the works for three years, depended on the grant money, according to Dave Solaro, chairman of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.

Solaro cited two main reasons for South Lake Tahoe’s need for a juvenile hall. For years, youth were transported 60 miles away to the county’s only hall located in Placerville.

One issue surrounded the inability of parents to find transportation down the hill to visit their incarcerated child, Solaro said.

“That’s when kids need their parents the most, when they’re in juvenile hall,” Solaro said.

The second reason pertained to public safety. Driving juveniles back and forth from the hall takes an officer off the street, Solaro said.

Principal planner Steven Hust, in an Oct. 12 letter to the Board of Supervisors, cited a report that “over 31 percent of all felony juvenile arrests were occurring in South Lake Tahoe, but only a small percentage were being booked into the juvenile hall in Placerville.”

The 26,058-square-foot, two-story building will include 40 beds, two classrooms, a medical area, kitchen and laundry.

The next step in the process is holding a contractor bid in January. When the contractor is picked, groundbreaking will follow in May with September 2004 as the prospective opening date.

— Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com

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