In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers. – Neville Chamberlain
I believe this to be true in almost all circumstances. Certainly, that is the case with the fight against the prison relocation. While today there are three communities likely feeling a strange anxious relief, there is one community which was not “successful”. From outright fatigue of fighting this battle, my commentary will be brief.
First and by all means foremost, I want to say that I could not possibly be any more proud than I am today of the residents of Saratoga Springs, Cedar Fort, Fairfield, and of course, Eagle Mountain. The community activism and mutual support our communities gave to one another throughout this protracted fight has been nothing short of inspiring. They say you find out who your friends are in your time of need. I’m glad to know that not only the residents of surrounding communities of Northwest Utah County care for one another’s needs, but the Mayors of each of our communities have been united as well. I’m glad to call each of you friends. I want to acknowledge and thank each of you for your contributions. Whether you participated by sending emails, keeping informed, attending rallies, making signs, informing neighbors, calling legislators, speaking to the press, or sharing your concerns with me, I am sincerely grateful. Your efforts absolutely made a difference. I assure you of that.
Today I am breathing a sigh of relief. Make no mistake about this; our arguments against hosting the new prison have never been focused on superficial factors commonly classified as NIMBY arguments. Mine and the City Council’s role as the stewards of the resources you taxpayers have entrusted us with, would have been in direct peril had we been chosen as the site. We work so hard to operate lean and efficient with your tax dollars. The additional requirements associated with the prison would have had a significant and detrimental impact on our ability to continue that trend. That is why I and City Council fought as hard as we did. It is our responsibility to do so and we would undoubtedly do it again if necessary.
I also want to state that I am still disappointed that the Draper site was not given the same “analysis” that the other sites received. I stand firmly in my position that this was a political decision and not a financial decision. Many legislators may disagree with that statement, though I welcome conversation with any of them. I have invested more time than I desired to fully analyze the facts and figures behind this prison move. I have done so solely in defense of Eagle Mountain’s future, though that process led me to the position that Draper was most likely the least long term expense for the prison. Had the consultants completed that analysis, we may have come to a more complete conclusion. In any case, there is little point crying over spilled milk, as they say.
Some time ago, it became glaringly obvious that the prison would be moving from the Draper site no matter what. In light of that reality, the conclusion was the best I could hope for. The House and the Senate both voted in a super majority to move the prison to the Salt Lake site. The Utah Constitution prevents a citizens referendum in the case of a 2/3 vote in both houses. This means that the resolution that was passed may not be challenged at the ballot. This provides some degree of protection for Eagle Mountain. Legal challenges and other political wrangling may, or likely will, ensue, though such methods of reversing this decision will be long shots. No matter what action Salt Lake City takes, we will watch the process closely and will not let down our guard. We will stand ready to pick up the sword again should things shift.
I encourage each of you to take a well deserved rest and I hope that you will continue to remain engaged with your government, be it Federal, State, or municipal. Your involvement keeps government accountable, and it makes us better. Thank you for all you have done. We couldn’t have done our part without you.