Thursday, August 13, 2015

Utah Prison moving it or not to Salt Lake City

My response to recent emails:

PRADA and the PRC were not tasked with studying rebuilding the prison at Draper. While I was not in the appropriation meetings referred to a few years ago in a response to your email, I have been at all public PRC meeting this year, and attended the public meetings at the 3 communities, and I have reviewed studies that are public and requested and recently obtained other studies that have not been posted such as the Geotechnical and Utilities Reports.

While there was one report from the outside consultants recently re: building at Draper, I personally spoke to the consultant and he was not able to defend,  in my opinion, his claim that the prison would be more costly or could not be rebuilt safely at the Draper site. That is his opinion. His big concern was doing construction work inside the fence and not outside the fence. The State is expanding Gunnison Prison right now, but constructing it outside the security fence.

There is enough room to rebuild the current main men's facilities (South Point) and the new core area for a prison at Draper in the vacant land, "outside the fence". Construction traffic can come from the north, not impacting the current security gate systems. South Point can then be torn down and the rest of the prison can be rebuilt on site. The power lines could be moved onsite for $10 Million if we need to, based on estimates sent to me from RMP.

Phasing could run from $5 Million per year (local contractor number) to $17 Million per year, (PRC number). Depending on how it is phased, at least one year of extension of time would be required. Based on the proposal to use surcharging at the SLC site, it would not take more time to rebuild at Draper, in my opinion. Even not surcharging the SLC site, the time to build roads and utilities could be less at Draper as they are already on site. We don't have to spend the $150 Million just to get and use the site if we use Draper.

At Draper, we could phase it over a much longer time period, reportedly saving $Hundreds of Millions, but if we are going to build a brand new prison somewhere now, it is my opinion it can be at Draper, and I believe at a savings around $100 Million, and be closer to current employees and not be further from current volunteers.

There is some savings for other travel/transportation costs of the SLC site over Draper, but those two locations, Draper and SLC, are the least costly long term to have a prison at than the other 3 locations, according to the reports provided the PRC.

For the SLC site, the consultants geotechnical firm's "not for construction, preliminary" but lengthy report suggests 1 to 2 years of surcharging the site to remove excess water and to compress the site and then to remove part of that earthwork to allow the site to rebound. If the state does follow that suggestion, along with the piers recommended, their estimate is $60 Million and 18 months for that work.

Re: the Ground at SLC site, Do I believe the prison could be built at the SLC site with less costly methods than those suggested? I do. Do I think the geotechnical solutions will be more costly than budgeted, I don't. I am not a Geotechnical Engineer, but as an architect I have been reviewing geotechnical reports regularly for over 20 years and I am working on resolving any concerns I have with the site with a different geotechnical engineer that has the most experience, in my opinion, of any in the state and especially in that specific area.  It is likely the same engineer that other agencies of the state are asking questions about the site.

The water and sewer costs at the SLC site vary greatly depending of if the those utilities are obtained from Magna or SLC. Water is cheaper one place and sewer is cheaper the other. This item could effect the cost to construct a prison at SLC by [ ...] millions, either way.

Again, I am not an expert on prisons. I served as a volunteer at the Draper Prison for 2 years. many years ago I worked on the construction drawings for the Gunnison Prison, including the site and floor plans and also the site and other drawings for Oxbow in South Salt Lake, plus site master plans for several proposed prison locations around the county, while working for a local firm. I have spent 30 years designing sites for commercial shopping centers and other commercial sites. Utah has 680 acres at Draper and we could design that location to free up land for Draper to get additional prime commercial property, creating a win-win.

Do I believe it makes sense policy wise to move the prison from Draper? I do not.

If you are going to spend, what I believe to be $100 Million of more money to move the prison, the SLC site location makes the most sense long term for the state based on transportation and other ongoing costs. I don't believe the site there will stay vacant for very long. The Agricultural zoning will likely be changed to manufacturing and high tech firms will move there, near the airport. Will they also move to Draper, over time, likely.

Good questions.

Fred C. Cox,
Rep. House 30