Governor suggests a change of address for prisoners
Draper’s Point of the Mountain state prison isn’t really fitting in with its new neighbors, according to Gov. Gary Herbert and Draper city leaders.
The prison is sitting on about 700 acres of property in an area near the recently opened eBay offices. Other technology companies, such as Microsoft and Adobe, have also set up shop in the neighboring area.
In Herbert’s State of the State address, given Jan. 25, the governor said that moving the prison out of Draper would open the way for other technology businesses to make the city their new home. He promoted the idea as a way to spur economic development for the state.
“With companies like Adobe and Microsoft expanding in northern Utah Valley, and eBay and Oracle in southern Salt Lake Valley, this area is rapidly becoming an IT hub. That’s why it’s time to get serious about finding a more suitable location for the state prison. We must make this 700-acre parcel available for the continued growth of our IT industry,” he said.
City leaders have expressed support for the idea. Draper Mayor Darrell Smith has served on a committee to encourage prison relocation.
“The prison property is a big issue now. If the prison is moved, it will take years for all that to play out. That will be a whole new era for the city if the prison property develops the way it’s expected. The idea of being a focal point, a bulls-eye of growth, really for the whole state,” Smith said.
The suggestion to move the prison is not without precedent. Before the prison was built in Draper decades ago prisoners were housed in a facility located in Sugar House.
Up until the 1950s, the state prison was located on property that has since been transformed into Sugar House Park. The site has now become a hub for community activities and recreation.
The park also draws residents from across the Salt Lake Valley to participate in events that give Sugar House a unique local character, such as the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
Draper City leaders are now looking into options for the state prison property that would be in keeping with the community and goals for future growth.
Smith and members of the city council have been participating in the process at the Utah State Legislature this session, which runs through March 14, to advocate for the prison move.
“Obviously, Draper City believes it’s a good idea to move the prison, but it’s a complex issue… It’s in the hands of many people at the state level. We’re waiting to see what the outcome is,” Draper City Council member and Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Rappleye said.