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West Side Leaders Urge Legislature to Reconsider SLC Prison Move

Whittney Evans
Democratic State Representative Sandra Hollins and Salt Lake City Mayor Canidate Jackie Biskupski are opposed to moving the state prison to Salt Lake City.

Utah Lawmakers will vote Wednesday to confirm the Prison Relocation Commission’s recommendation to build a new state prison near the Salt Lake International airport. But elected officials on the city’s west side aren’t giving up efforts stop the move.

Democratic State Representative Sandra Hollins convened a press conference Monday morning at Riverside Park to protest the project. The Salt Lake City site the Prison Relocation Commission recommended earlier this month is in her district. 

“Let me be perfectly clear,” Hollins says. “The west side is doing its part.”

Arguments against moving the prison to Salt Lake City range from possible environmental impacts to curtailing future economic development on the site. Hollins argues the city’s west side is already home to far too many rehabilitation centers and halfway houses. 

“I’m willing to go as far as it takes and continue screaming and hollering until I’m not in the legislature anymore that this is not the proper community for it,” Hollins says.

The event was stacked with members of the Salt Lake City Council, former and current state lawmakers, west-side residents and Salt Lake City Mayoral Candidate Jackie Biskupski.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has said he would consider a lawsuit, or possible referendum to halt the project. Salt Lake City Councilman James Rogers agrees.

“Litigation, that’s always the end result,” Rogers says. “But we want to be able to try and see if we can avoid that if at all possible. It’s expensive for taxpayers but we want to make sure that our voice is heard. That’s why we’re waiting for the special session to go over before we move forward with what we’re going to pursue.”

The $550 million project will replace the aging prison in Draper. Those who want to see the prison move say it can’t logistically be rebuilt in place. Lawmakers are also eyeing the Draper site for redevelopment that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Utah’s economy. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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