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Huntsman Wants Prison Moved

Huntsman Wants Prison Moved



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John Daley reportingAn old idea is getting some fresh debate as part of the race for Governor.

The idea: Moving the state penitentiary from the south end of Salt Lake Valley to a new location.

Draper city officials would love to have the nearly 750 acres of land yothe prison sits on for re-development. The big questions, where would the prison go and how much would it cost?

Fifty-three years ago, when the state prison was built, Draper was out-in-the-sticks, away from bigger population centers.

Now, new homes and businesses are encroaching and the idea of moving the prison is again being tossed around.

The Republican candidate for Governor says the move would be good for economic development and quality of life, and that rather than spend more on a rapidly aging facility it should be relocated.

Jon Huntsman, Jr./ (R) Candidate for Governor: "Presumably it's going to have to be on a major transportation corridor, fairly close to the metropolitan area, for health care access, for family access."

Huntsman's Democratic opponent says long-term planning is important, every option should be on the table--but if there's extra state money available, perhaps it should be spent elsewhere.

Scott Matheson, Jr./ (D) Candidate for Governor: "We also have to keep our priorities straight. And if we've got to deal with crowded conditions in the first instance, and we've got money to do it, I'm going to put it in dealing with crowded classrooms."

The city of Draper and many residents there would be happy to lose the prison and the stigma it brings with it.

Draper's population has exploded from 5-thousand in 1990 to 33-thousand today.

But Draper gets no money from the state for hosting the prison, and the city would welcome economic development there.

Eric Keck/ Draper City Manager: "The long-term we do see that the re-development of this particular property is advantageous and fortuitous for our community."

But it would be a big, expensive undertaking. Cost could be in the range of $300 million. A staff of 11-hundred would have to be relocated, and transportation costs would go up.

Jack Ford/ Dept. of Corrections Spokesman: "This is a five to ten year plan. It's not something that could be done overnight."

The first step would need to be a feasibility study, which would require approval from the legislature. Both candidates today say the issue deserves an in-depth look.

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