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Bellevue is finalist for proposed regional jail

A site near the new Group Health Hospital in Bellevue is among six potential sites for a new regional municipal jail, a multi-city planning group announced on Nov. 20.

The site is about five miles northeast of Mercer Island.

But according to Mercer Island Police Chief Ed Holmes, the city does not plan to use the new regional jail for misdemeanor offenders. Currently, the city books such inmates into the Issaquah, King and Yakima County jails and will continue to do so.

“We have other options with jails,” Holmes said. “A jail will cost more money, and we have other options that suit us just fine. In the future, we will rent on an ‘as-needed’ basis.”

The Bellevue site is located on a five-acre parcel along 116th Avenue N.E., between N.E. 4th and N.E. 8th streets.

State law requires cities to have a municipal jail because some misdemeanor offenses require incarceration.

Twenty-three municipalities, including Bellevue and Seattle, have banded together as the North-East Cities municipal jail-planning group to formulate concepts for a new 640-bed facility that would house misdemeanor inmates.

Preliminary estimates for building the new jail facility put the cost at $174 million.

A forum to discuss the potential Bellevue location will take place on Dec. 15 from 6-9 p.m. at the Meydenbauer Center (11100 N.E. 6th St., Bellevue).

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