The Prison…

I want to make each of you aware of recent developments with the State’s efforts to relocate the prison.  I will give you all the information I have available to me and I welcome any questions you may have.  John Walden has submitted a parcel of land at the south end of the city for consideration as a potential location for the relocated prison.  Here is a map with the location of the parcel.

Prison Relocation

As you can see, the parcel is located at the southernmost boundary of the city.  There is also a site located at the northern end of the city which has been discussed extensively as the Saratoga Springs site.  This location is unincorporated county land between the borders of Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs.

At this time, I have met with members of the prison relocation commission, project engineers, project staff, and several of the consultants responsible for managing the process.  I would like to let you know that I have been engaged in the process and I have been working diligently along with staff to understand the process the Prison Relocation Commission is following in their site selection process, and also to determine what it would mean to Eagle Mountain if the Prison were to locate within our borders.

In short, my opinion is that relocating the prison to Eagle Mountain or Saratoga Springs would result in a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars.  It would also create the same encroachment issues experienced with the Draper site in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga springs, and all withing the next 30 years or less.  In fact, I believe relocating the prison to Eagle Mountain would go much further than wasting taxpayer dollars, it would crush the economic development opportunities Eagle Mountain is currently pursuing (with promising results I might add).

Eagle Mountain can not sustain growth on residential development alone. It will take businesses and jobs to grow our daytime population, which will in turn grow our retail development.  The property taxes and sales taxes from this type of positive growth are needed to help us bring our roads, parks, and services up to a higher standard.

Because of our geography, Eagle Mountain has great appeal for large projects which will benefit not only to Eagle Mountain, but also to Northern Utah County and the State of Utah.  We have power transmission lines, a high pressure gas tap, and a fiber-optic backbone running directly through or adjacent to our city. We have inexpensive land, a young and well educated workforce, and an unrivaled quality of life with ample recreation opportunities nearby.

To locate a prison in the middle of a rapid growth area with such prospects, would squander opportunities and negatively impact the city, county, and state.  It is the economic opportunities, and savings which are driving the campaign to relocate the prison.  The relocation will certainly benefit Salt Lake County and the state.  I understand the benefits of pursuing efficiency and economic opportunity, but let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face.

It should be noted that Eagle Mountain the city has been working hard on several economic development projects and we fully expect to see a quantum shift in our market in the next few months. The relocation of the prison has a strong potential to derail one or more of those significant projects.

Eagle Mountain City and Saratoga Springs are well known to be two of the fastest growing cities in the state, and even in the country.  Here is some information from which states:

“Projections show Utah County with the highest increase of individual residents – 700,000 additional people anticipated by 2050. This significant growth in Utah County is reflected in projections for both small and larger cities. Through analysis of GOMB projections, of the 26 listed cities in Utah County, 11 have a projected percent change of over 200%. Smaller towns in Utah County will still see significant changes – Vineyard is projected to see its population multiply to over ten times what it was in 2010 by 2020; Fairfield, Genola, and Cedar Fort are all projected to more than double their populations in the same timeframe. Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs are projected to add over 90,000 people by 2050.”

In this research report, Eagle Mountain is estimated to grow by 434% by 2050 and Saratoga Springs is estimated to grow at 507%.  I have posted below some documentation that will show the Eagle Mountain Site location and the estimated populations by land use.

Eagle Mountain Properties (The land owner of the proposed prison site and surrounding residential areas) has a total of 15,721 units remaining for the build out of their properties. They were allowed 22,930 total, and gained 621 with later-acquired properties. 3,352 were previously approved, and the land owner is is bringing their Harmony development before City Council this Tuesday for a development agreement on a preliminary plat that is already approved. This development will place 4,478 additional residential units in close proximity to the proposed prison site. You can see the huge number residential units in close proximity to the prison site here: Residential Interface After reviewing the maps, we estimate that approximately 80% of Walden’s property is within the 3-mile radius of the prison site, or approximately 12,576 units. Multiply that by 4.15 people per household and you’re talking about 52,190 population on Walden’s property alone. When other properties are included, the population within 3 miles of the prison will be well over 100K people.

In two simple principles we can make strong arguments against either of these two sites being chosen.

  • Relocating the prison to this area would damage the economic development prospects of Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs, Utah Couunty and the State of Utah.
  • RElocating the prison to this area would duplicate the exact same problems of the Draper Prison inside of 30 years.

Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

To avoid those outcomes, I would strongly recommend that the commission take the time appropriate to carefully consider not only the positive economic impact of moving the prison from Draper, but the negative economic impact of the site they choose and use the delta between the two to estimate the net economic impact.

Better yet, avoid the potential all together and choose a site that would be otherwise undesirable for economic development.  While it may have been in jest, I have seen Antelope Island suggested. While the logistics of Antelope Island may be a bit unrealistic, property surrounding the Great Salt Lake would not be unrealistic. The land would be under far less development pressure, would present easy access for the employees and for the 1,071 volunteers in Salt Lake County.

So what can WE do? WE can let our voices be heard. Here are some simple steps you can take.

1. visit this website! It has great information about the prison relocation, with more content being added as it comes in.

2. Join the No Prison in Saratoga Springs or Eagle Mountain Facebook page.

3. Commit to coming to the very important Prison Relocation Commission meeting if you can. Dec 3, 2pm, at the Capitol: Click Here for information.

4. Contact your elected representatives and the Prison Relocation Commission.  PLEASE be RESPECTFUL.  I can tell you that this process is difficult, and while the process may seem unfair, these individuals are doing their best to carry out the instructions they have been given.  No cursing or insulting please. It will only make things worse. Professionalism, and courteous voicing of your opinion however, will go a long way with this group.

Contacts for the prison relocation committee:

Jerry Stevenson (Senate-Chair of committee)

Brad Wilson (House-chair of committee)

Karen Mayne (Senate Dist 5)

Evan Vickers (senate Dist 28)

Gregory Hughes (house Dist 51)

Eric Hutchings (house Dist 38)

Mark Wheatley (house Dist 35)

Bryant Howe (assistant director)

Robert Rees (associate general counsel)

Brian Bean (policy analyst)

Sara Thomas (leg secretary)

Mr. Rollin Cook
Executive Director of the UT Dept. of Corrections
no e-mail listed. His secretary’s e-mail is:

Mr. Ron Gordon
Executive Director Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice


Mark Madsen (senate 13)

David Lifferth (house 2)

21 thoughts on “The Prison…

  1. This is very disappointing. I had a feeling this would surface, despite being taken off “the short list”. Thanks for the updates and for your vigilance in trying to keep this out of our city, despite seemingly being undermined at every turn by the committee and those pushing for it to be here.

  2. Pingback: Eagle Mountain City Center Proposed Site (South Site) | No Prison in Saratoga Springs or Eagle Mountain

  3. The Facebook group you posted is called “No prison in Saratoga Springs”. Is there another group for Eagle Mountain? Also, there are a LOT of children out here. Is this something the committee is aware of or cares about?

    • Ember, the group was established by Saratoga springs residents and they have changed the logo to include Eagle Mountian, but Facebook does not allow them to change the name. The site is dedicated to both communities. They are well organized and the benefits of not reinventing the wheel. Are significant.

      • And actually, it was started by both a Saratoga Springs resident, Troy Cunningham, and myself, an EM resident. Rest assured, we are against both sites and prisons in either of our sister cities. My opinion is that separating ourselves off in a separate EM group is a division of forces that serves neither SS or EM.

  4. Not voting to sale the utilities would have maybe deterred this. Funny that this comes out after you get a yes vote to sale the utilities.

    • Becky, the land owner applied for the site selection in July and the sites have all been evaluated based on the criteria established by the commission. Private vs public ownership of the utilities was not part of the consideration. The number one site is in unincorporated Utah County which does not provide its own utilities. (Neither SS or EMC are obligated to serve the county land). The ranking of the sites have been scored one time and only one time. The scores have not changed, though the short list based on the site selection criteria was determined to be too restrictive and so the short list was expanded to a wider pool for consideration. I hope that helps clarify the process.

  5. I am not sure I understand how not selling the utilities would have helped in this regard, please elaborate. The way I see it the utilities not being sold would have been even more appealing to someone wanting to put a prison here…. Also mind you the vote to sell was overwhelmingly in favor…

    I fully support Mayor Pengra’s remarks, and feel good knowing he is in our corner, there is no better individual that can help us prevent this from happening, I have joined the FB group and am willing to do whatever I an to help.

  6. Thank you Mayor Pengra for the update. I have emailed the committee and Senator Madsen some very specific questions about his relationships. I thought it was odd that we have heard nothing from him during this process. I have also reposted on my FB page. Thanks!

  7. Sounds like it is time for the city council to do everything they can to re-zone John Walden’s land. It’s time to start making life really difficult on John Walden out here. He doesn’t have the best interest of the locals at heart. Maybe he should be required to have his own primary residence on the land where the prison is being built.
    If they can’t re-zone, I wonder if it would be worth it for the city to buy out all his land with some of the profits from the sale of the utilities and get him out of our city once and for all.

    • Dean, I understand your frustration. We can all commiserate with this issue. As frustrating as this is, the fact is that this is the United States of America and property owners have rights. There are appropriate ways to restrict land use when it preserves planned community functionality, but when government uses that power for manipulation of property owner rights, I must disagree. John Walden has a master development agreement which allows him to adjust the zoning on his properties for any number of uses (with some restrictions). His agreement expires in 2016 and his ability to make a mess of things will be greatly reduced.

      In the mean time, John Walden may apply for consideration, and we as citizens, and I as your representative government, have the right to make our opposition known. That is the way I believe government SHOULD work. It may be hard work, but it’s better than throwing the constitution out the window. Government out of control for “good” reason is still government out of control right?

  8. Simple put….this could be the worst idea EVER! This would force some of us in C.C 3 miles away from the proposed prison to heavily consider selling our brand new homes while we can still get value in them. I understand you must be in a difficult position Mayor Pengra. We may need to consider having an organized campaign (peaceful of course) on a Saturday and get heavy news coverage. I understand we have a Facebook page and a website dedicated to this, however, putting a face to this could go along way. If this does go through on the South Site our city will lose both good and educated people who understand how this will impact our future. I built my home here because of affordability and proposed growth/development. This action alone so close to so many people who negate so many good things that are happening. I appreciate your willingness to keep us up to date and your relentless hard work.

    • Quinn, there is a meeting at the Capitol building on December 3rd at 2:00 PM. It would be great to get as many people there in civil protest. If you are able to be there, please be sure to stay tuned to the noprisoninsaratoga Facebook page for instructions.

  9. I can’t see how this will be good for anyone out here. Thanks for your efforts Mayor Pengra. I’ll be there on Dec 3rd. It’s unfortunate that our opinions are such a small percentage of the overall score as far as the PRC is concerned.

  10. Pingback: Growth Makes SS/EM Poor Areas for Prison Placement | No Prison in Saratoga Springs or Eagle Mountain

  11. This would be devastating to our family oriented community.
    Houses three miles from a prison as large as a small city. We do not want to look out our kitchen windows to see barbed wire and armed police. This is a community where children walk and play. Our homes would be devalued. People would sell and move. Half way houses would make our community unafe for young and old to walk and run in the early hours of the day. Please help us save our sweet family community where children play and walk to church!

  12. It’s sad and amazing what money/greed does to humans. That’s the ultimate driving factor here for Mr. Walden and others in his party with their hands in the money pot. His decision to even consider this speaks to his poor character, honor, and integrity for a community that he “founded”.

    If the prison is built in EM or SS, I can assure you I’ll be selling my new home built in March of 2014.

  13. Question for all of you… How many of you even know John Walden? I have lived out here for over 16 years, and yes I have 6 children. Having a prison out here would do great thing for our city. First It will bring a hospital out here. That is awesome. Second it will bring jobs which means growth and were there is growth there is more commercial growth and then there are more jobs. There are million dollar homes within a half mile of the Draper prison. The value of homes will not go down.
    In the past 50 years there has only been ONE person escape from the Draper prison. Lets all look at the positive here. and just make the best of it,

    • Jayjay,

      I know John Walden. Though this has nothing to do with John Walden. If John Walden is to be believed, he has no idea about anything concerning the prison. See the text and quote from a recent SL Tribune article here:

      Walden, one of the founders of Eagle Mountain, signed a proposal asking the Relocation Commission to consider his property but said he was unaware of what that document entailed. He also said he didn’t know that the City Council had called an emergency meeting. He said he would meet with the mayor later this week to discuss the matter.
      But he reiterated that he would consider moving the prison onto a parcel he owns about 4 miles south of city center. “I haven’t made a decision either way,” he said. “How can you say yes or no to anything until you see the details.”
      Walden’s attorney is state Sen. Mark Madsen, a Republican who represents Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs. Madsen has not responded to requests for comment. Pengra said he also has been unable to get Madsen to return his messages.

      The prison will not bring a hospital to Eagle Mountain. Hospitals cost hundreds of millions to build and a hospital will not be built here simply to serve a prison. Hospitals must have a major population center around to pull customers from, otherwise they will not turn a profit. Eagle Mountain will some day have a hospital, though it is not bound to happen until our population is much larger. In fact the prison will be build with it’s own advanced medical facility on site, with trauma care being provided by local area hospitals. A new hospital is being built in Lehi, though my understanding is that the Department of Corrections uses University of Utah medical facilities which are much further away from Eagle Mountain than Draper.

      You are correct jayjay that the prison will create jobs, just not many jobs. The current prison employees will need to determine if they are willing to commute to the new facility and I suspect some will opt to find employment elsewhere. Most jobs will be kept by existing employees. The new prison facility is supposed to be more efficient, so the job growth with the expanded prisoner capacity may not result in any new positions, just the infill of positions with natural atrophy.

      In contrast, Eagle Mountain is currently working on several economic development projects with will bring in jobs. High paying jobs which will draw in people from outside of the city and inside the city. Where the prison would offer some economic gains, the volume of people that would be drawn into the city for work and from all other functions of the prison operations would also cost the city in the form of increased infrastructure cost. (like road maintenance)

      I won’t argue that the prison won’t provide any economic benefit, because that wouldn’t be an honest argument. I will argue however that we have other projects well under way which will provide more viable long term economic benefit, but without the negative aspects of a prison economy. If we can have the development without the prison, I will take it.

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