Prison Relocation Update

Due to a post on a community Facebook page today regarding the proposed State Prison relocation and a potential site on the border of Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain, I have started receiving emails from residents of both Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs encouraging me to oppose any prison relocation plans in our area.

I would like to thank you for your activism and for letting your voice be heard on an issue that I know is important to us all. I want to assure you that relocating the prison to our area is something I have already voiced my opposition to, and plan to continue to oppose. I was hopeful that sites in our area were no longer a viable possibility for the prison relocation committee, however, information I have received recently indicates the site in our area is still a contender.

The site being considered is privately owned land in the County area on the north side of Cory Wride Memorial Highway (SR-73), east of Mt. Airey Dr. in Eagle Mountain and west of 800 West in Saratoga Springs.  In addition to common concerns of aesthetics and proximity to neighborhoods, there are many issues with this location which seem to conflict with the recommendations of the PRADA Report which can be viewed here:

I will continue to fight any effort to approve the prison relocation to this site. I have been in active conversations with Mayor Jim Miller of Saratoga Springs, Council Members from both of our cities, as well as State Representative David Lifferth.  As additional details of this process become known, I will be certain to post an update here on my blog.

36 thoughts on “Prison Relocation Update

  1. Mayor,

    Thanks for the update and your fight in keeping the prison out of our back yard!
    My question is this: Do we (as residents / a community / EM leadership) actually get a say when it comes to the final decision of the prison site? If the prison committee decides its going in SS, does it automatically go there despite our opposition? I guess what I’m asking is, who gets ultimate say in its final location?

  2. I kinda want it in EM because of the large amount of jobs it will provide. Aren’t we all about having an economic boost? Visitors would spend money at local businesses too. I’m pretty sure 1 escape in 50 years isn’t damaging to the community. It would probably reduce crime having it there.

  3. It’s my understanding that because it is private land and in Saratoga Springs, we can voice our concerns but in the end it is not a choice we have. I have seen comments made by the choosing committee that indicated they don’t want to locate a prison in an area that doesn’t want it, but in the end it is a state decision. I would like to hear the pros and cons involving the prison. I do understand the concerns about having a prison from an social-emotional well-being perspective but what about fiscally?

    • Hi,

      I am a relo from MN. I have only lived in Utah 65 days. Our prison devastated an entire rural city years ago. The surrounding homes taxable market values plummeted and many homes went into foreclosure. It drove away businesses and now the only people who live in that city are prison employees and the families of the long incarcerated. It is not a fun place to visit. It isn’t a matter of how much we don’t like prisons. It is simply a matter of how much damage is this going to do to the economy. The building boom is great for the entire economy of Utah not just Saratoga Springs. Throwing a wet blanket on a boom town is counter productive. Saratoga Springs suffered greatly during the recession and has managed to become a thriving city. We should be using Saratoga Springs as an example of what to do in the future. We need to learn from this city. Saratoga Springs will bring in wealth and that wealth will spread to surrounding cities. This town will spread housing along the lake. Most of which, will be around 400,000 to build. Why stop that momentum?

  4. Thank you Mayor Pengra! I agree with you. Looking at a map it looks like the possible location would be within easy walking distance to several schools. Why would anyone think prisons belong close to schools is ok? I agree I noticed a few things on the report that made me wonder why that site would be under consideration. I thought it was interesting that the site selection criteria placed community acceptance at 15 out of 100 points but proximity to legal services and medical services for prisoners and proximity to prison staff at 35 out of 100 points. In their criteria explanation document it goes into detail about many things but says nothing about community acceptance. Is Eagle Mountain zoned for prisons? Ha Ha just kidding, sort of. I wonder what impact a prison will have on real estate in the area? As far as jobs go what if it was built 10 miles away from Eagle Mountain? Wouldn’t those jobs be available just the same. Just because a prison is local doesn’t mean locals will get all the jobs.

  5. Mayor,
    We are not ones to post to forums or get overly excited about things, but, the fact that there is even talk about a proposed site of the prison near where we live and where our children attend school is extremely upsetting.
    We moved here for the peacefulness of Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs.
    We do not in any way believe by having a prison near us will promote “less” crime, it will bring more crime, worse crimes. Peacefulness will not exist.
    The persons who are even considering placing criminals near our homes and our schools need their heads examined!
    We will not see more jobs, the prison already has hired help. The construction of the prison will give jobs for a moment. It will not in anyway help us, it may help the city, but not it’s values or its people. It will lower our property values and we will lose our citizens, we will see houses for sale and sitting vacant.
    The very thought of having a prison near our home makes us want to sell and go else where.
    There is a reason why you see signs that say “prison area don’t pick up hitchhikers”. We don’t want to ever read a sign that says that in the neighborhood in which we live!
    We send our children to school everyday and worry about their safety, we don’t want to add in the fact that every time there is an issue at the prison we have to have schools and homes locked down or worry about a prisoner’s and their friends in our homes and schools.
    We’re grateful you oppose this but, we will move else where if the prison is located even remotely near our homes and schools.
    There is plenty of land in the state of Utah not near any homes or schools. If they can’t find any, they aren’t looking hard enough.
    We don’t care about what the facts or benefits of having it here gives us. We don’t want it regardless!
    We don’t want it as our neighbor. Thanks you for being against this and please fight to keep it away from us and our schools.

  6. We will be moving also. I don’t want a prison out here. For many many reasons. And I agree with the last poster, they should be putting the prison where it’s away from neighborhoods/schools.. there is a TON of open land in Utah. This makes no sense to me. Tell them to keep driving another 20 miles south of Saratoga and stick it out there somewhere for instance.

  7. Thank goodness my daughter’s family (7 people) are not home-owners, but renters. It will be inconvenient for them to move if a prison gets situated near them and their 5 children, but I’m sure they will opt for the inconvenience over having THAT kind of neighbor.

  8. Shantel and Concerned,
    That’s the thing, I would guess most of us don’t want this. We moved out here to get away from this type of thing. I come from West Valley originally and while I was never scared there, the difference between this community and where I come from is night and day. We have a strong, safe community here, and there is no way in heck we’re going to let anyone come in and hurt that. And as politically incorrect as it seems, we don’t want unskilled labor jobs that will only bring more crime into our community. I don’t know about you, but I know I came out here to get away from the city and crime because I was sick of it.

    Unfortunately for us, the legislature doesn’t seem to care. The one Stevenson guy did say they aren’t interested in putting the prison where the community doesn’t want it, HOWEVER the other guy Wilson says that there’s a lot of energy around this issue and people need to step back while he sits down with Saratoga to basically talk them into the proposition even though they’ve already said no. Bottom line, whether we as citizens agree with it or not is only 15/100 points on their scale of things they care about during this consideration process. They care more about whether families can easily visit the bad guys (35/100) than what the law-abiding citizens of our area think. They will be putting this where they want regardless. The other issue is that the committee that set this up in the first place is violating the very principles they said were the reason they wanted to move the prison in the first place (e.g. valuable property and moving prison away from civilization). Both are proven smokescreens when our area is even considered. And the worst part of this whole thing is that when/if the decision is made to move here property values will plummet because many of us are going to want out, therefore supply jumps, demand decreases, and we all are in a very bad place.

    I hope all of the EM and Saratoga residents continue to speak out against this because it will take a lot of us to make sure we force this idea out, because if we don’t these state politicians are going to push it right through anyway.

  9. Nobody likes to own or buy a home close to a prison!
    I am sure that a prison next block will reduce the price of our homes and will damage the excellence of our neighborhood!
    Long term: The ranches will not be a great area anymore.

    Is there something we can do to stop this?

  10. Making noise now is the best way that we can prevent our site from being chosen. Choice will likely be very politically driven, so best way to get what we want is to show that our site will be politically disadvantageous to the politicians making the decision. Specifically … letters, petitions, phone calls, emails, demonstrations. Anything you can do to voice your disdain will help. Here are the emails for the state reps and the mayors involved. (Although I think it really stinks that the final decision won’t be made until after elections)
    Email Mark Madsen Utah Senate 13-
    Email David Lifferth, Utah House 2-
    Email mayor Jim Miller, Saratoga Springs-
    Email Mayor Pengra, Eagle Mountain-

  11. By law the prison cannot be in the middle of nowhere. It must be a certain distance from a certain level trauma center for example and close enough for food and other needs to be shipped in. Employees driving long distances to work is an issue. By the way the federal government owns must of the land in the state and they are not selling. Another problem. Another day.

    I understand and respect people not wanting it here. I have no problem having it in SS or EM. I guess according to the guy previously I need my head examined. That may be true.

    I do think there is a little overreacting by some.

    • Then it’s a stupid law. Can’t we the people ask reasonable government legislators (not sure who) to propose a law that says prisons can be in the middle of nowhere. I’d be happy to pay more taxes to raise the salaries of those who work in the prison system to compensate for them having to commute farther, among other things. I don’t loose much sleep over whether families have to travel to see their loved ones in prison. Or, maybe the real reason is because the cable and internet companies haven’t laid cable to the middle of nowhere, and inmates would not be able to get HBO. Maybe my last sentence is not entirely accurate, but perception is everything, and when the majority of home buyers see that there is a prison in EM’s back yard, they will say thanks but no thanks, and property values will plummet. This has been proven time and time again across the country. This is a horrible idea, and one that will stunt the growth of the city for decades to come. On the bright side, now that UDOT has mucked up the SR73 road flow for the next decade, maybe prison relocation officials will shy away from EM because it now takes much longer to commute here than it did when a road from A to B was a straight line, whereas now it goes via a needless C.

      • I agree with your frustration. The rights prisoners have is too much. I think splitting up the prison would be better. Instead of having two state prisons in Utah:one really huge one and a small one. Why not have 5 small ones. But the possibility of this thought has already passed.

        Also its not a law per se but a combination of court cases and industry standards.

    • I feel you are simply naive on the subject. My guess is you have not lived just a few miles from a prison. Even as I write and the memories flood back…it’s hard to describe the fears and feelings.

  12. Unless you consider an increase of beer and cigarette sales positive economic growth, a prison will do nothing positive for the economy of Eagle Mountain city. Period. It will absolutely do the opposite.
    The prison already has employees, they’d just drive 10 extra minutes from the current facility to EM so it’s not like the prison will hire a bunch of local EM residents to work there. The only jobs it will (temporarily) create are construction jobs while it is being built.
    Ohhhh, and if you think light pollution is a problem now. Just wait until the facility is lit up like its noon…at midnight. Say goodbye to the remaining stars we already struggle to see. Not to mention the horrific eye sore a prison itself is. Unless you like looking at barbed wire, layers of chain link fence and child molesters, rapists and gang members walkin’ the yard, that is.
    But the best part of living by a prison is when the sirens go off (and they go off frequently). You won’t immediately know why, but you have to assume there was an escape. So, you make sure your kids are all inside, doors and windows are locked and you watch out the window with some sort of weapon and a phone in your hand. It’s awesome fun! Especially at 2am. Makes me miss living in So Cal….NOT!!
    I lived near a maximum security prison in LA county for 30+ years. Escapes happen, not often but they happen. So do riots and fights happen daily. If you think putting a prison here is a good thing, think again. It will distroy Eagle Mountain!! Last I checked habit wearing nuns are not who visit inmates. Their criminal, gang member relatives do and oh boy, they’ll love Eagle Mountain. Hard working, honest, trusting residents…. easy pickins.
    This better not happen in our city! For the sake of our kids, our homes and our way of life as we now know it. Cuz it won’t be the same!!!

  13. I agree with everybody oposing. I do not think a prison belongs in the most condensed area where children and families Resides. This is our city, our home. And our voices should be heard.

  14. Cal-i-for-nia, here I come. Right back where I started from…
    It took us almost 60 years to escape from California. We thought we were moving to a family friendly community that didn’t allow politicians to dictate their will on the community. Hmm?!
    What’s next for Utah? 13.9% state income tax? 9-10% sales tax? Ban on plastic grocery bags? $3.89 a gallon for gas? Highest poverty rate?
    Wake up Eagle Mountain & Saratoga Springs. We’ll all be lucky if we’re not upside down after our home values plummet.
    Whatever financial boon this prison is being sold as is a crock. Our home values plummet, the property TAXES plummet. Does that compute, politicians! Less money. Not more!!
    (The number of rentals will skyrocket – most of them will rent for however long their loved ones “are in for”.)
    More crime, though. A bike or two on the lawn; kids that walk home from the bus – alone; 75% of the yards are unfenced…
    The prison visitors will be checking out our neighborhood. Count on it.
    And the wail of the sirens – it’s just delightful.

      • Not at all, Tim. I can’t stress strongly enough how this will change our community and our way of life. It will do only harm. I lived and worked just 3 miles from a max security facility. I was a school district employee for 22 years, so I could tell you stories about campus lock down as well. There is no good side to this. No resident should even be neutral.

      • Sir. I appreciate your service to school children.

        Is Draper where the Prison has been for 60 years seen any problems that you say will occur? No they have not. Since people have been freaking out abut this I have looked for academic studies on the topic herein. The results are mixed. Sometimes it IS an economic boom and sometimes crime does come down. A topical lawyer answer, “it depends.” I think for all parties involved that a site near the Spy center and Camp Willliams is a good one.

  15. Thank you for the informative post. I won’t go into the reasons why (they have been addressed by several other posters), but I am vehemently opposed to the prison being relocated to the Saratoga Springs site.

    Mayor — I think you have a VERY motivated audience. We are looking to you for specific things we can do to prevent this from happening. I’m talking about more than posting things on Facebook. I know of one online petition already. What other, more active, steps can we be taking?

  16. It seems there are only two of us that have first hand experience living close to a prison. I can not address the studies and statistics other than to say they do not reflect my experiences. I stand by my comments and opinions and in fact could tell you story after story. I almost forgot about the search lights from the helicopters in our yards or the wash behind our houses (& sometimes right in our windows!) At any hour of the day or night. That was always delightful. Especially when those helicopters weren’t but a few hundred feet over our houses.

  17. Mayor Pengra,

    Thank you for your transparency and openness. I am highly concerned with this issue as I see many things that would be attractive to the selection committee; transportation, proximity to existing services, ability to expand, etc.
    From your blog it sounds like you are hopeful but we as residents of EM may not make choices for SS. What can we do? Who can we talk to. This is not an issue of poverty, socioeconomic status, or discrimination. This is an issue of a walking community with close access to schools and homes being neighbors with violent and aggressive offenders.
    Let me know what I can do to help.

  18. In response to the home values in Draper, those homes are not close to the prison, with a freeway separating them. There is hardly anything near it for a reason. Those that have chosen to live there in recent years knew that the prison was close and based their decision to live there knowing that. Maybe if you do something that sends you to prison, your family will have to travel to see you. Sometimes the choices we make don’t just affect us.

  19. The reason the prison is being considered being moved is because that land has a lot of potential for commercial use because of the expansion out in that area. What I don’t understand is why is saratoga being considered? Look how much this area has grown lately! Don’t you think that VERY soon we will run into the EXACT problem. The prison needs to be moved where there isn’t a lot of current development. And another thing how is community acceptance only worth 15/100 points? That is repulsive.

  20. Good to know the Mayor is backing the majority of residents in opposing a prison. Besides the obvious risks of having criminals and their “family and friends” coming and going in a residential area, property values DROP when there is a prison. Do not think for one minute this is an economic boost – it is a depressive.

  21. Pingback: Where is the Proposed SS/EM Prison Location? | No Prison in Saratoga Springs

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