Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Is tearing down the prison and relocating worth the cost?

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  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Jan. 15, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    I bet if Utah moved the penitentiary to Mexico, there would be fewer repeat offenders. We could help Mexico's economy and save 50% at the same time.

  • ThornBirds St.George, Utah
    Jan. 14, 2014 3:21 p.m.

    Do the developers think that after a while, the public in Utah will give in and approve this?
    Big money pushes others with money to do things without thinking them through. It has always been and will always be these people's bottom line.
    Moving the prison is the greedy goal of developers and politicians......then, now, and in the future.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 14, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    A breakdown of who will profit (developers, tradesmen, tax payers, etc.) and how much they will profit would put this discussion on an objective basis and allow informed opinions. As it is now, it is simply a conservative or liberal platform for saying my political philosophy is better than yours. Moving the prison and making the land a park is wonderful, but who will agree to pay for it? Does Mayor McAdams want to raise a bond?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 10:45 p.m.

    Is tearing down the prison and relocating worth the cost?


    Depends who you ask, if you are a teacher or other state employee who has been asked to sacrifice because there wasn't enough money the answer is no. If you are a developer who could make millions because of a prison move then the answer is yes.

    If you are a volunteer in the prison system who would now have to drive much farther, or have a family member in the prison who needs to be visited, again the answer is no.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 6:21 p.m.

    2 bits: "What's 'wrong' with... Just because they may make some money by doing it??"

    The concern is not that developers profit from developing the land. That's fine. As you point out, it's what they do. Profit itself is not the bogeyman here. The tangible fear is that legislators and other elected state officials will manipulate the sale so that it is not truly competitive and cronies get sweetheart deals at below market prices. That's the negative side of "profit" that is the subtext of the discussion-- corrupt or unfair practices resulting in selling a public resource for illegitimate private gain.

    2 bits: "The only expense to the State will be... buying the new land and building the new facility."

    No. Right now the prison is a less than 20 miles from the courts, hospitals, etc. Moving it to Gunnison or Delta or Green River will increase prisoner transportation costs for routine functions like court appearances. Then add 4-5 hours of salary plus lodging and per diem for every state attorney or therapist driving to visit an inmate. Products used by the prison could be more expensive due to longer shipping distances from warehouses.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 1:05 p.m.

    If the prison must be moved, follow precedent. Keep the land in public hands for public purpose. Turn the grounds into a park or open space, like Sugar House Park. There is a paucity of large tracts of recreational public space in the south end of the valley. Do it "for the children."

    If it must be sold, put it into a trust and place a 20 year moratorium on the sale or development so that no sitting legislator or lobbyist stands to profit from it. Speculators have land banked vacant properties downtown that long, so a delay shouldn't be a hardship.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    Now for the other side of the story (and my last comment)...


    The only expense to the State will be... buying the new land and building the new facility. It doesn't COST the State one dime to sell the old land (in fact they make a boatload of money doing that).

    But if they can't find some land that they can buy and develop for the price they get for the old land... they shouldn't do it. Because then (and only then) there WOULD be a "Cost" to the State.

    But I think if they are wise they can find some land that's cheaper than what they can get for this land, and they can develop and even better (meaning safer and cheaper to operate) facility in the West Desert.


    And that new facility will also probably need to be replaced in about 50-75 years (just like this one). We should not expect the population to grow at the rate it has since 1950... and not have some growing pains in our corrections administration.

    We outgrew the State Prison in Sugar House. We outgrew the prison in Bluffdale. And we will eventually outgrow the next prison they build.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    IF the developers make some money re-developing this land... it won't come out of your pocket.

    The State will not be paying any developer one dime.... the developer will be paying the State!

    IF the developer ends making some money... it will not be from the State. The State is not a partner. They are just selling them the land (but the State will make a TON of money from the initial land sale, AND future property taxes from new home owners, and businesses taxes from new businesses in this area).

    IF any developer ends up making any money developing the land the prison was on... every dollar will be payed (willingly) by a person buying a house, or a businessman renting some space for his business, etc. It will not COST the State anything. And the profit to the State will be the proceeds of the land sale, and new homeowners and businesses to tax.


    What's "wrong" with Bluffdale having a I-15 business district (like Sandy, Draper, Midvale, Murray, etc)? What's wrong with Bluffdale establishing a tax base?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    To address the REAL question (instead of the constant stream of Democrat innuendos)... The question is... Is relocating the prison "worth the cost".

    Theres a distinct chance that there would be no "cost" to the State. The State could MAKE money on the deal. If we can sell this very valuable land and buy some cheaper land in the west desert for the prison... why not?

    Some people seem so concerned that a developer may benefit from it... They would rather the State spend MORE money (that affects all of us) in order to cut off that new tax base and future tax revenue for Draper and Bluffdale... just because somebody said, "a developer might make some money re-developing the land".


    I hate to break it to you Democrats but... that's what land developers do. They make money from developing or re-purposing land!

    I don't know why this shocks so many Democrats.

    What's "wrong" with a developer providing needed construction jobs, building new businesses, and new housing for Utahns?? Just because they may make some money by doing it??

    That's WHY they do it! They don't do it to lose money!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 11:51 a.m.

    I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not, but I wish we could deal with the situation on it's own merits, and quit the pretense that "it's just a Republican conspiracy", or "it's the real-estate people in the Legislature lining their pockets", or bringing the emotionalized refinery issue into it.

    Let's discuss why it's a good or bad idea. And leave all the emotionally charged innuendos and conspiracy theory's out of it for a change.


    We need more room for the prison (it's not about public safety Tree-Hugger, nobody said it was). The current prison is completely safe, it's just too small for the population it serves now. The State population has grown since the 1950s.

    We've expanded about as much as we can on the land we currently own. What are our options? Demolish existing facility and construct a high-rise prison on the same land? Or move to a larger piece of land?

    IF we decide to move to a larger piece of land... what's "wrong" with selling the old land to finance buying the new land?

  • cavetroll SANDY, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    "By the way, Edward Snowden is a traitor, not a hero." Webb

    I'm not saying I agree or disagree with you, but I'm sure some people saw Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and the rest of the Founding Fathers as traitors also. It's all about perspective.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    So let me get this straight...

    Utah has the money to move the prison -- for safety,
    but doesn't have the money to move the refineries -- for safety?

    it's 100% about politics, lobby groups, and developers --
    and NOTHING to do with Public Safety.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 7:35 a.m.

    Moving the prison will help Draper, at the expense of the rest of Salt Lake County and Utah. Lets move it to where we forget it? No, that really is a bad idea. Keep it to where it is close to colleges, hospitals, the courts, and lots of visitors and volunteers. We don't actually want the prisoners to stay prisoners.

    There is enough room to add 576 beds and you wouldn't notice which would allow the few non-pod type facilities to be replaced. We also have this really cool system in Gunnison where the prisoners work with wild horses. For those prisoners that the Draper facility doesn't work, we have that option.

    Don't move the prison.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 6:09 p.m.

    Not all of the prison facilities are old. Much of the complex is less than three or four decades. Perhaps the old maximum security parts of the prison should be moved out of the urban area of the state and re-located. However, why move the medium and minimum facilities? The only reason I see would be to enrich developers. There are prisons around the country that sit on far more expensive and urban land than the point of the mountain.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 5:26 p.m.

    The prison is fine just where it is. The Hi-Tech corridor is an illusion and dream made up by realtors who want to make a buck at public expense. Does it need rebuilding? Probably, so build the new buildings on the parking lots or pasture not occupied by present buildings, and move the prisoners when done and then raze the old buildings.

    Orem High and the new Joseph Smith, and Smith Family Living Center were rebuilt in this fashion. It can be done.

    This whole "movement" to move the prison is motivated by greed, and ego.

    Next we will hear the slogan, "If [we] build it, [they] will come." The "they" are the companies that are already camped out at the State Line Casino waiting for the gun to go off to start the rush of wagons to point of the mountain to stake a claim on the new buildings in the HTC.

    The whole idea is so bogus.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    Well of course it's worth the cost.

    If you're a land developer with deep connections to our legislature who will stand to profit immensely from it.

    Remember the GOP's definition of socialism: "Socialize expense. Privatize profit."

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 11:29 a.m.

    "It makes no sense to have a state prison in the middle of a major technology and business corridor where great demand exists for commercial and housing development."

    Ever been to Pleasanton, California? Just east of I-580, a huge federal prison and a California prison are located there. It doesn't seem to phase the folks who live there at all. There is housing, industrial, and retail development all around the area, as well as a military reserve training base. I just don't see the problem.

  • McMurphy St George, Utah
    Jan. 12, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    Moving the prison "... needs to be done right with no political influence from lobbyists and political insiders. The process requires complete transparency and proper oversight".
    When pigs fly.

  • David King Layton, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    Mr. Webb, you write that "terrorist attacks are a much bigger threat than NSA compiling billions of records showing that one phone number called another phone number"

    The actual threat of terrorism is quite overstated. In fact, you go on to write that instead of worrying about what the NSA does we should worry about things that could actually hurt us, with one of your examples being lightning strikes. This is a curious choice given that one is statistically more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than by a terrorist attack. Do you think it's worth it to ignore the fourth amendment in order to win a "war on lightning"?

    So your argument really cuts both ways. If we're going to surrender basic Constitutional rights in order to feel safe, why not start with things that would actually hurt us instead of letting politicians continually hype the terrorist danger around every corner?

    And by the way, for letting Americans know about a program that many of us have problems with and that we would have not found out about any other way, and doing so at great personal sacrifice, Edward Snowden is a hero.

  • stanfunky Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    So asking two lobbyists to give a 'transparent, unbiased opinion' on relocation of the prison counts as good journalism? Please. Go ask the people who will be directly affected by the move, the workers at the current prison, the justice system, the prisoners and their families, and the army of volunteers and those who provide services like education, healthcare, church services, if THEY want the prison moved. I would wager the answer with those groups is a resounding NO.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    Most Utahns by now understand Republicans in Utah have an opportunistic side to them, kind of an entitlement mentality that if they convince enough citizens to support them, it's OK for them to benefit themselves, personally. We see it in the reluctance to modify campaign finance laws, we've certainly seen hints of it in the $13 Million bidding "mistake" on the I-15 project, and the full manifestation of the shadow of political corruption in Utah is coming out as we learn more about Shurtleff and Swallow.

    There are realtors in the Legislature, and they have developer friends. They can't wait to get their hands on the prime real estate where the prison is currently located. This should surprise nobody.

    I say "fine, you guys can move the prison and line your pockets in the process... IF you also figure out a way to get the refineries away from our children".