West Jordan residents, leaders protest possibility of state prison coming to town

Posted at 8:33 PM, Dec 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-05 22:35:55-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- A quiet, sprawling piece of property in West Jordan is starting make quite a bit of noise among its neighbors.

Next door to a local elementary school at 8200 South is the potential new home to the Draper State Prison.

"We moved here for this very reason: serenity. Never did we think we’d have to be battling our elected officials for a prison that was in our backyard,” said residents Nathan and Christine Kidd.

Families joined city leaders of surrounding communities Friday to protest the possibility of the prison coming to town.

“There’s no place for it here. It needs to go somewhere else,” resident Scott Hardey said.

Earlier in the week, the State Prison Relocation Commission revealed a list of six locations they believe would be a good fit to house the prison. West Jordan learned it was ranked first among them, a move West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said was a mistake.

“This really is the place for our state's future,” Rolfe said. “It's not a place for a prison."

The problem resides in another piece of land adjacent to the potential prison.

According to Rolfe, the city has been in negotiations with three big business that want to move into the space, bringing jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars into the area.
If the prison were to encompass the approximately 500 acres it requires, those companies could go elsewhere.

“These are significant companies,” Rolfe said. “They, like me, don’t believe this is going to be the location of the prison.”

It was a sentiment echoed by city officials in the neighboring communities of South Jordan, Taylorsville and Herriman.

“Why would you put a prison over here or anywhere along the Wasatch Front that is going to have high growth potential, economically and residentially?” asked Mayor Carmen Freeman of Herriman.

The property in question is owned by the Jones family. FOX 13 News contacted one of the owners, Merlin Jones. According to him, the family has not decided what they want to do with the land. They are still considering what the sale would do to the value of other land they own nearby.