If the center remains on the island, security requirements will restrict most other uses.
On the other hand, if the state decides to move the SCC and its approximately 300 residents, it will open an array of new possibilities for public use of McNeil, such as a park, a historic monument or commercial development.
That’s the conclusion of a new state-funded report on long-range planning for McNeil, and it explains the report’s top recommendation for the 2013 Legislature: “Determine the level of support for either leaving the SCC on McNeil Island or trying to relocate the facility off the island.”
The $100,000 study, released Nov. 20 by the state Office of Fiscal Management, also recommends what it says is an equally critical action: Start taking better care of the abandoned prison and other structures on the Island, or risk the property reverting to federal ownership.
Because of lack of funding, the state has been doing only minimal maintenance on prison facilities and residences left on the island after the prison closed in 2011.
Representatives of the U.S. General Services Administration, the federal government’s property manager, visited the island in April and found the state out of compliance with maintenance requirements in deeds transferring the island to the state.
The state Department of Corrections performed a “cold closure,” of the prison facilities, shutting off the heat and other utilities. Lack of heat and ventilation has caused mold problems, the report says.
The study’s authors estimate the cost of improved maintenance at $200,000 to $1 million a year until the state and the federal government come to terms on what the long-term future of the island should be.
The study also recommends more study.
It suggests the Legislature cover costs of a long-range planning process during the 2013-15 biennium, which it estimates at $480,000.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693