SALT LAKE CITY — Have questions or concerns about the new Utah State Prison's construction or a future inland port in Salt Lake City's west side?
There's a meeting you might want to attend this weekend.
As they do every year, Salt Lake City Democrats Rep. Sandra Hollins and Sen. Luz Escamilla are hosting a town hall meeting Saturday focused on west-side Salt Lake City issues, and they want to field questions and concerns on hot-button issues like the new state prison or the inland port.
The town hall meeting has been scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Utah State Fairpark Pioneer Building, 155 N. 1000 West.
This year, the prison and the northwest quadrant development — the capital city's last remaining swath of undeveloped land — are top of mind, Hollins said in an interview Thursday.
"Of course, everyone has questions about the inland port" and its impact to the community, Hollins said, as well as the ongoing construction of the new prison.
The town hall comes after recent reports of concerns that the prison construction projects costs have risen out of control — to nearly $700 million — while the bed count has gone from 4,000 to 3,600. In response to concerns, state leaders have cited "confusion" over the numbers and explained cost estimates have been difficult to project for multiple reasons, including a hot construction market and the uniqueness of the plans for the new prison.
It also comes amid negotiations between state and city leaders on legislation that would create a new authority to oversee development of an inland port in the city's northwest quadrant.
Salt Lake City and state leaders including House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, have been meeting to hash out a bill that both city and state leaders would find acceptable for the future of the northwest quadrant — one that would create a new type of governing body that, if Salt Lake City has its way, won't remove the city's taxing and land use authority in the northwest quadrant development area, wherever the inland port is sited.
"We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop this, so we want to be very cautious and also address mitigation of impact," Escamilla said.
Hollins said her constituents have questions and concerns ranging from the prison's costs and it's impact to the environment to how the public will be involved on the inland port's development.
"They want to make sure their voices are being heard about their concerns with regard to impact," Escamilla said, noting air and noise pollution are top concerns.5 comments on this story
"I want to be able to hear all of the concerns from the community and want to be able to advocate on their behalf — and we can advocate better if we know what their concerns are," she said. "My main focus is just to make sure the west side is represented in this whole process."
Involved lawmakers including Hughes, House Majority Whip Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton — as well as state corrections officials — are planning to attend Saturday's meeting to field questions, Hollins said.