Prison relocation board ready to gather bids

This Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 photo shows the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. Utah lawmakers are advancing a plan to relocate the state prison in southwest Salt Lake County. The Utah State Prison occupies about 700 acres in Draper where tech companies such as eBay and Microsoft have opened offices. Gov. Gary Herbert has called on lawmakers to fund the relocation so the corridor can develop as a technology hub. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A committee studying the relocation of Utah’s state prison is getting ready to request bids from developers. The Utah State Prison occupies 700 acres in Draper near companies such as Adobe and Microsoft Corp.

Supporters of relocation say the move will let the Draper site develop as a hub for software companies and other firms.

The 11-member committee of elected officials and community leaders is expected to make recommendations to lawmakers about potentially moving the current facility, which opened in 1951.

The Deseret News reports ( http://bit.ly/13BZ83P) the Prison Relocation and Development Authority voted last week to start drafting a request for bid proposals.

The board will review the bids to determine if the prison should be moved, and if so, where the new site should be.

There’s no deadline for the board to decide, but board chairman Lane Summerhays said the request for proposals will be ready this fall.

Summerhays said he doesn’t know if the committee will have a recommendation for lawmakers by the start of the next session in January.

“I don’t know how realistic that is, but we’ll give it a shot,” he said.

Before the prison moved to Draper about 60 years ago, the state prison was located in what is now Sugar House Park. The state also operates the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

Tooele and Sanpete Counties have been suggested as possible sites for a new location, but Summerhays said no options have been ruled out. It’s possible the board could recommend keeping the facility at its current location and streamlining the operations.

“Everything should be in play,” he said. “This is a 70-year decision.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, another member of the committee, said he has still not decided whether the cost of moving the prison is worth it to taxpayers.

However, the board needs to act now to collect bids while interest rates and construction costs are low, he said.

State Rep. Brad Wilson, a Kaysville Republican and member of the committee, said collecting proposals from developers is part of the committee’s mandate.

During the meeting Wednesday, the board also heard a presentation from the Department of Corrections detailing how a new facility could improve inmate services and prison conditions.

That presentation highlighted that the debate about moving the prison also includes “what a tremendous opportunity we have to push the reset button,” on that facility, Wilson said.

“There’s been an assumption this is all about freeing up 700 acres in Draper,” he said.

The committee is planning to have a detailed discussion of the draft requesting the developer proposals at a September meeting.

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