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Prison Relocation Chairs Reverse Course, Plan to Attend Q&A Sessions

Courtesy photo
Grantsville, UT in Tooele County is one of the proposed locations for a new prison site.

The first of three information sessions on a new state prison site is Wednesday night at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City. The co-chairs of the Prison Relocation Commission say the meetings are not intended for collecting public comment, but they expect to hear it anyway.

Utah state Representative and Prison Relocation Commission co-chair Brad Wilson says the upcoming meetings in Salt Lake City, Grantsville, and Eagle Mountain are just intended to provide information.

“We’re really not trying to sell the concept of a prison to a community,” Wilson says. “We just want to make sure they have all of the facts.” He says the meetings were designed to have experts on hand who could talk about issues that might affect the surrounding communities – from aesthetics, to public safety and infrastructure. But when commission members came under fire because they weren’t planning to attend, Wilson says he changed his mind.

“It’s not that we didn’t want to be there; it’s just we didn’t really view these as venues where we would be taking a lot of public comment,” Wilson says. “My guess is we’ll get quite a bit.”

In fact, a group in the Tooele region is planning a protest. Jewel Allen is co-founder of a Facebook group opposed to the prison. She’s expecting the information session to be one-sided.

“Obviously they will use the information to present the prison in the best light, but I don’t think they are adequately addressing our major concerns,” Allen says.

For Allen, those concerns include the use of scarce water resources and taxable land that could go to fund schools. But will these types of protests affect the commission’s decision? Wilson is noncommittal.

“We’re not going to judge who has the best protest if that occurs,” Wilson says, but he did not discount community feedback in the site selection process, and says they do intend to solicit it when they get further along in the process. He says there will be at least one official public comment meeting yet to come, though he did not know whether that would be before or after the legislative commission has selected a site.


  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Promontory Building, Utah State Fairpark
    155 N 1000 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84116
  • Thursday, May 28, 2015, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Grantsville High School
    155 E. Cherry Street, Grantsville, UT 84029
  • Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Frontier Middle School
    1427 Mid Valley Road, Eagle Mountain, UT 84005

For more information about the Prison Relocation Commission, visit the PRC's website at

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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