GRANTSVILLE, Utah -- The Prison Relocation Commission is hosting the second of three open houses on the issue Thursday, and at the event in Grantsville a protest against bringing the prison to the area was underway across the street.
The open house put on by the Prison Relocation Commission was scheduled for Thursday evening inside of Grantsville High School, and right across the street was a rally organized to oppose relocating the prison to the area.
The rally organizers invited food trucks to the park, and there was a free concert scheduled for Thursday night as well. It was all part of an effort to get people out, and organizers were hoping the public would come to express their concerns and doubts and let the Prison Relocation Commission know they don't want the prison built in their community.
“I hope they can see our community is very much against the prison,” said Jewel Allen, who co-founded the group No Prison in Tooele County. “I hope that they see we care about our community, and that we will be tough on them on the questions. We expect them to answer questions truthfully and not just one-sided.”
Inside the high school, the open house has information about what modern prisons look like and how they impact--and some would say benefit--a community. The open house featured a question and answer period from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"We're very pleased by the turnout," said Bob Nardi, a consultant with the Louis Berger Group hired by the commission.
A steady stream of people visited the information booths at the public open house, where employees of the Utah Department of Corrections were on hand to answer questions.
"Everybody is genuinely interested and concerned, and I think they're coming away with a lot of accurate and valuable information," Nardi said.
But not everybody felt that way.
Clayton Cammack, a Grantsville resident, said: "This seems to me like blatantly trying to shove something down our throat than trying to give real information."
Michele Calhoun lives across the street from the proposed site in Tooele County, and she spoke against bringing the prison to their backyard.
"Nobody wants it," she said. "I'm sure the people in Draper don't want it now because they have these beautiful homes, and I know it's high-value property market, but Grantsville and Tooele Valley itself has always been the dumping ground, and I think its time for us to get out of that."
Those protesting the prison in Tooele County had a victory earlier this week, as there were originally two possible prison sites in the county. However, the site near the Miller Motor Sports Park was taken off the table and the Miller family says the land is no longer for sale.
Another common concern among those at the meeitng in Grantsville was the availability of water resources. However, the prison relocation commission believes they could help the city's water supply by improving infrastructure.
"We think that working together we can do great things," Nardi said. "Not only to serve the needs of the prison, but we find ways of improving the infrastructure for the community as well."
Thursday evening's open house followed the same format as an open house in Salt Lake City last week, with paid consultants along with some prison employees giving out information.
A moderator helped to keep an even tone during the question and answer session, but before it started the Mayor of Grantsville offered a few remarks toward the Prison Relocation Commission, and they were not kind words. He obviously does not want the prison here, and he said this is a statewide issue that should not be pushed on his city.
There is one more open house to be held next Thursday in Eagle Mountain, where two more sites for the new prison are being considered. See below for details.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m .
Frontier Middle School
1427 Mid Valley Road
Eagle Mountain, UT 84005