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State looking to sell Indian Ridge in Arlington Heights

ARLINGTON — The Indian Ridge Correctional Facility in Arlington Heights is one of 10 surplus properties that the state is looking to sell to raise money.

The 180-bed county facility southeast of Arlington has sat vacant since it was closed in 2005, although Gov. Christine Gregoire and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon proposed reopening the facility in 2007 to house low-risk inmates and free up space in the county's Everett jail for prisoners from the Department of Corrections. Although the proposed measure was intended to prevent the early release of inmates due to overcrowding, Arlington Heights residents reacted negatively to the idea of prisoners being housed in their midst, during a town hall meeting that year with representatives of the Department of Corrections and Community Corrections.

Just as the reopening of the Ridge in 2007 could have generated an estimated $1.1 million in annual profits for the county, between the nearly $4 million a year the state was expected to pay the county to house the prisoners, and the roughly $2.9 million a year it was expected it would cost the county to operate the facility, so too does selling the Ridge offer potential revenue for the government. The state's goal of raising about $86 million from the sales of the Ridge and other surplus properties within the next two years could make a dent in the state-projected shortfall of as much as $5 billion in the next two-year budget.

"We were going through the budget with the governor, looking at programs we could eliminate and institutions we could close," said Stan Marshburn, deputy director of the Office of Financial Management. "We had one facility that's been scheduled to be closed for the last two years, and when it was explained how much money it would cost to mothball it, she asked us why we shouldn't just sell it instead. From there, we drew up a list of properties that have been closed or surplused in the past several years that would be good candidates to sell."

Jim Erskine, a spokesperson for the state's Department of General Administration, explained that the state plans to sell the properties at market value without discounts, and elaborated that his department is corresponding with a commercial real estate broker to facilitate these sales. Although state surplus properties must first be offered to other government agencies, Erskine acknowledged that few city or county governments were likely to have the money to spare to purchase these properties during the current budget crunch. As of press time, the city of Arlington has not stated any interest in purchasing the property.

"It may take a little time for it to move," Marshburn said. "In the past, we may have just kept properties like this indefinitely, but we can't sit on these assets anymore."


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