JAIL SITE SELECTION

The County staff looked at approximately 40 possible sites for the new Jail. It appeared that the Public Safety Building parking lot was the best choice. Both the City and the County had consensus. Then, out of the blue, a new site appeared and went to the top of a list of two. The I-35/I-94 site is located just across the street from the proposed new site of the Metro Transit Agency’s garage and administration building. The majority of the County Board approved the new site. Commissioners Rettman and Guerin still favor the Public Safety Building site. The Pioneer Press reported: "…they’d rather build the jail at the Public Safety Building location for two reasons: it’s on public land, and the I-35/I-94 site is at the edge of the planned Phalen Corridor industrial redevelopment."

"This site is pivotal for connecting the Phalen Corridor to downtown," Janice said. "It’s taking away 10 to 15 acres of your developable land." It would cost approximately $22 million plus possible relocation and soil correction costs to build at the new proposed site. In contrast the Public Safety site would cost $24.7 million, including the parking ramp which would help solve downtown parking needs. The City Council has reaffirmed the Public Safety site because it does not take private property off the tax rolls. The business community as well as the Phalen Corridor Initiative and community districts responded strongly against the proposed sites for the Metro garage and Jail. The garage site would affect 10 property owners; the jail site another 3. "I find it difficult to understand that you are going to be leveling a successful business that has been there since 1920," said Tracy Donovan, president of Commonwealth Electric of MN, a business that would be uprooted by the jail.

"I feel like we’re being railroaded," said Paul Kulenkamp, president of Anchor Paper. "The reason we are there is the location—it’s very convenient," added Jim Thiers, owner of Hoeft Appliance Center.

The businesspeople were among many that spoke out at a well attended meeting that was co-sponsored by the East Side Area Business Associations, Metro Transit and the Districts 4, 17 and 5 Planning Councils.

All three business owners ended their comments with statements that their businesses would need to move. Kulenkamp said he’d probably move Anchor Paper and its 115 employees to Minneapolis. Donovan said he hasn’t been approached yet to relocate, but he’d probably relocate Commonwealth’s 50 employees to New Brighton, where he has another company. Thiers, who has another store in Woodbury, said he’d probably move Hoeft Appliance’s 15 employees at the St. Paul site to another suburban site.

And why is Commissioner Rettman still anchored to the St. Paul Public Safety Site?

A contractual agreement with Washington County is also part of a long-term solution to expansion. The December 30 Pioneer Press reported that in 1994, the Washington County Board considered shutting down part of their new jail because it was half empty, and the operating costs exceeded the budget projection by $650,000. Today they are covering their operating costs and their daily census "hovered" between 175 and 190 inmates—capacity is 193, which includes Ramsey County contract beds and U.S. Marshal federal prisoners. The perdiem charge of $65 may go to $74.

To Janice using the Washington County Jail is part of the solution. "I would like to do the dollar figures on the Public Safety site and the new proposal. I think the results will be to build where St. Paul wants to and to work out a contractual arrangement with Washington County. Let’s allow the Phalen Corridor to develop, produce tax dollars and jobs."

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