Today I voted to move the ailing Draper prison to a new site in Salt Lake City. Critics of the move have cited costs and implied cronyism in liquidating state owned property. Lets clear the air on the facts of the situation.
The effort to understand the best interest of the taxpayer in moving the prison has been ongoing for the past four years. When the original proposal to sell the prison site came up in 2011, the process dictated by the laws only allowed for a 90-day request-for-proposal from contractors. With such a large site and important impacts for Utah moving forward, the Legislature decided to create a Commission to study the issue and make sure the State was making the wisest choice possible. This commission was called the Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA).
|Rep. Brad Wilson presents the resolution to move the Draper prison to Salt Lake City|
PRADA was tasked with contracting with architects, geologists, and other specialists in analyzing all the impacts associated with rebuilding or moving the Draper prison. The study was exhaustive. Two years ago, after preliminary reports came to the Legislature, we voted to move the prison to a future site which was to be determined. At that time there were about 50 sites being considered.
Ultimately, that long list was winnowed down to 5 sites. After final deliberation and analysis, the Salt Lake City site was chosen as the best long term value to the taxpayer when considering construction costs and operation costs over the 50 year life of the site.
Here is the information that helped inform my vote:
Passage of the bill was not without drama. Rep. Fred Cox attemped to substitute the bill with his own version that keeps the prison at the Draper site.
There was little support for that on the floor. Another substitute was offered to override Rep. Cox's substitute. The vote to override Rep. Cox's substitute passed with his being the only dissenting vote.
Debate on the bill was emotional and passionate. Ultimately the bill passed with a vote of 62-12.