A “misleading” report released last week lead to a false conclusion that the Miller family-owned property in Erda was off the list of potential sites for a new Utah State Prison, a state official said.
“We haven’t removed any sites from consideration,” said Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, co-chairman of the state’s Prison Relocation Commission. “The report may have been misleading and it was not interpreted correctly.”
When the Miller family property did not appear in a table titled “Universe of Prospective Correctional Facility Sites – Round 2” in a report dated March 27, Tooele County legislators concluded that the Miller family property was no longer under consideration.
The PRC has had five targets on its list for prison sites since Feb. 27. That list has not changed, according to Stevenson.
Along with the Miller family property, the other potential prison sites are located northwest of the intersection of Interstate 80 and 7200 West, near Eagle Mountain, on SR-73 in Cedar Valley west of the town of Fairfield, and in an industrial park on the west side of Grantsville City.
The Miller family, the Eagle Mountain, and the I-80 and 7200 West properties were selected as the top three sites for further evaluation by the PRC during a Dec. 22, 2014 meeting.
In the PRC meeting held on Feb. 27, the Grantsville City industrial park and Cedar Valley sites were added to the PRC’s list for final evaluation.
The March 27 report only details the assessment of 31 new or modified sites the PRC received after the Dec. 22, 2014 meeting. It was not meant to indicate any change in the sites already announced by the PRC, according to Stevenson.
“The report released March 27 didn’t change anything,” he said. “There are probably test holes being dug at the five sites as we speak as part of the detailed technical analysis.”
Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, was disappointed when he learned the Miller property was still on the PRC’s list.
“It’s a colossal waste of time, energy, and the state’s resources to conduct studies on a site that isn’t going to be used,” Nelson said.
When the Legislature adopted legislation a few weeks ago giving the host community of the new prison the option to add 0.5 percent to its local sales tax, it was understood by legislators that the prison was headed to Salt Lake County, Nelson said.
He referred to the PRC’s process of site selection as “disturbing.”
The March 27 report also raised the ire of Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele.
“I was lead to believe by legislative staff that the report meant that the Miller property was off the list,” he said. “Now they tell me that’s not true. I lack trust and faith in the site selection process.”
Legislation passed during the 2015 General Legislative Session gives the PRC until Aug. 1, 2015 to name its preferred location for the prison. However, the legislation also allows the PRC to extend that deadline one month at a time.
The full Legislature will weigh in on the approval of the final site, according to legislation.