YAKIMA - Last week, Yakima businessman Al DeAtley, who opposes the decision to locate the new Yakima County Justice Center at the Central Washington State Fairgrounds, announced the findings of a public opinion poll conducted by Elway Research on his behalf.
The independent firm conducted 400 telephone interviews of Yakima voters between April 26 and 28. The results have a 5 percent margin of error.
According to information from DeAtley, 54 percent of the people polled live within the 98902 zip code, 37 percent live in the 98908 zip code, 7 percent live in the 98901 zip code and 2 percent live in the 98903 zip code. Of those who took part in the survey 53 percent were female and 47 percent were male.
The first question poll takers were asked was whether or not they had heard anything about a plan to build a new jail in Yakima. According to the results, 95 percent of the people surveyed said they had heard about it. They were then asked how closely they have been following the jail issue. The results showed that 27 percent have been following the issue very closely, 45 percent have been following it somewhat closely, 25 percent have not been following it closely, and 2 percent were not asked the follow-up question.
According to the results, the third item survey participants were asked about was their thoughts on buiding the jail at a different site. The statement presented to poll takers read "Local government officials and a Blue Ribbon Panel of citizens has been looking at potential sites for a new jail for about two years. They have proposed three different sites in that time. Each of those sites proved unworkable. The current proposal is to build the jail on the county fairgrounds. Supporters say that this is the most practical and affordable site available. They say it will save taxpayer dollars to build the jail there. Opponents say putting the jail on the fairgrounds would be a blight on the fairgrounds and would harm the fair. They say there are better places in the county to put the new jail."
The results show that 14 percent of those polled strongly support building the jail at the fairgrounds, while 21 percent support the idea. According to Elway Research, this means that 36 percent of those polled support the jail siting. The results show that 26 percent of those surveyed said they oppose the project, while 32 percent said they oppose the building of the jail at the fairgrounds. Six percent of those people polled had no opinion.
Elway Research then told people that "another possible site for the new jail might be in the industrial area near the armory at the airport." They asked those polled if that site was considered if they would support or oppose the jail. According to the results of the survey, 17 percent answered that they would strongly support building the new jail near the airport, 43 percent responded that they would support the proposal, meaning that a total of 80 percent of the people polled support building the jail near the airport. Poll results showed that 17 percent of those surveyed oppose the idea, while another 12 percent strongly oppose building near the airport, which means 29 percent of those polled oppose the proposal. Eleven percent of those who were surveyed had no opinion in regards to the proposal.
According to the information gathered by Elway Research, 33 percent of the survey participants were ages 51 to 64, 27 percent were ages 36-50, 27 percent were over the age of 65, and 14 percent were between the ages of 18 to 35. The poll also found that 38 percent of those surveyed are employed in a private business, 15 percent are employed in the private sector, 11 percent are not working right now and 35 percent are retired.