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7 Recommendations For Unused Wapato Jail

OPB | June 17, 2014 3:11 p.m.

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Imagine for the sake of this post that you had an empty jail and you could make it into something completely different. A fresh coat of paint, maybe some hardwood floors in place of the concrete block, and voilà you have a… What?

Multnomah County tried this pitch on the locals for the Wapato Jail — it was built about 10 years ago for $58 million and has yet to be used.

Metro-area residents stepped up to the challenge and submitted seven very different responses:

  • Richard Davis of Surplus Real Property submitted a bid for $2 million to create a reality television show of a crew turning the facility into something else.
    “I am happy to divulge further details if we are chosen as the successful bidder, but for the sake of the TV series, the actual use can’t be shared at this point in the process,” Davis wrote in his pitch.
  • Tom McFadden of Oregon Media Production recommends transforming the jail into a film, video and media production facility.
  • Jack Nonbrigand of Round-op Alpha, a movement that says it is for “the arrest of world government,”  wasn’t too creative, offering to make the jail into a working prison for high-profile criminals. But Round-op Alpha wants to take it one step further: The facility will “be extensively commercially exploited, to the fullest extent possible, by organizing and facilitating guided tours for the general public … at very competitive fees and rates.”
  • Samantha Loren took a very Portland approach. She wants to create a community garden and rehabilitation site.  In her words, it would be: “a dedicated space conducive to creating supportive relationships to the land and its people.” The proposal was signed “The People.”
  • Patricia Ramirez was very straightforward, suggesting the state buy the property and use it as a hospital for “the mentally ill people who are not necessarily criminals.”
  •  Charles Ong saw the potential for a community college satellite campus.
  • And finally, John McDonald has offered an Austin Power-esque $1 million dollar bill from a taffy store in Seaside, saying that he will either turn the jail into a bar or a house. “My bid is a million dollar bill for the key. … Contact me if interested.”

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