SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – August 18, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) – A special session of the Utah State Legislature to address the Prison Relocation Commission’s recommendations for the Utah State Prison will take place tomorrow at 3 p.m.
“I have called the Legislature into a special session on their August interim day to vote on the recommended site of the Prison Relocation Commission and five other issues,” Gov. Gary Herbert said.
It was announced last Tuesday the Utah State Prison could be moving from Draper north to Salt Lake. After an exhausting series of hearings, site studies, and protests from potential neighbors of a new penitentiary, the Prison Relocation Commission unanimously made its recommendation.
Members concluded that the Salt Lake site off Interstate 80 near the airport made the most economic sense now and into the future. In fact, officials with Utah’s Economic Development Corporation suggested a new prison at the Salt Lake site could be a catalyst for further growth and development around an industrial park that is already one of the most successful in Utah.
The existing Draper site came in a close second but analysts felt it could be redeveloped into a high tech industrial park using business resources and a strong workforce in both Utah and Salt Lake counties.
The other three sites, one in Grantsville and two in Utah County, one near Eagle Mountain and another southwest of Fairfield would cost the state millions of dollars more to prepare for development and construction of a new prison.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker condemned the commission’s decision.
“By selecting Salt Lake City today, assuming that it is approved by the legislature and the governor, they have forced a new prison on Salt Lake City against our wishes. We will continue to do everything we can to prevent this site from being ultimately selected. Next week we will meet with our lawyers.”
Salt Lake City mayoral candidate, Jackie Biskupski, also condemned Tuesday’s announcement, but laid blame for the decision at Mayor Becker’s feet.
“I am extremely disappointed in the selection of Salt Lake City as the location for the new prison, and the culpability of Mayor Becker in this process is especially disappointing.
“This is a decision that will shape this city’s future for generations to come. Our west side has been ignored by this administration, so it should come as no surprise that Mayor Becker would sell them out in his negotiations for a sales tax in this city.
“In addition to the lack of concern for residents of the west side, the environmental impacts and the shortage of water resources in this part of the valley should be more than reason for the commission to look elsewhere.
“As mayor, I will continue to oppose the prison relocation, and will pursue every option available to keep it from being built in the west side of Salt Lake City.”