Site switch for juvenile facility |

Site switch for juvenile facility

Gregory Crofton

The scramble for a spot to build a juvenile hall at South Shore may be over.

El Dorado County officials switched their proposed building site from 1.6 acres inside the Justice Center’s parking lot to a 2.2-acre plot next to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office at the Justice Center.

The county owns the 2.2-acre plot, unlike the 1.6-acre site it owns jointly with the city.

The change came after officials backing the construction of a 40-bed juvenile hall presented plans at City Council May 1. Councilmembers expressed concerns about building a hall on top of a parking lot that is heavily used.

“What they wanted to do is put it on land we both owned. We were uncomfortable with that,” said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Hale Cole. “Now they plan to put it on land they own.”

The property selected is a wooded area that borders Al Tahoe Boulevard. Cole said if a hall is built there, it may be disruptive to aesthetics in the area, depending on what screening measures are taken.

City and county officials have expressed a preference to build the juvenile hall on a 4-acre plot next to the jail that is owned by Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

However, negotiations to lease or buy the land will not be completed in time for the county to receive necessary grant money to build the project.

County officials are required to show the California Board of Corrections they have secured property by May 17 to gain more than $4 million in grant money.

The county considered two properties it owns on Shakori Drive before selecting the 2.2-acre site, said El Dorado County Facilities Manager Tim McSorley.

The county hopes to begin construction May 2003. The hall is expected to be 20,000 to 23,000 square-feet and cost $9 million. El Dorado County has earmarked $5 million to finance the project.

The final site decision depends on an environmental evaluation, which will take at least a year to complete. McSorley said the 4-acre, 2.2-acre and 1.6-acre sites will each be assessed for environmental impact.

A push to build juvenile hall at South Shore has been in the works since 1999. Right now the county has one 40-bed juvenile in Placerville that is perpetually overcrowded, often with youths transported from South Lake Tahoe.

A report released in January stated South Lake Tahoe police cite and release 76 percent of their new arrest felony cases and 95 percent of new misdemeanors.

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