After months of heavy lobbying, Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday announced the six individuals he has selected to help decide whether the state should move the Utah State Prison to a new location an estimated half-billion dollar project that could free up hundreds of acres for development along Utah's urban corridor.
The governor's pick for the Prison Relocation and Development Authority board (PRADA) includes an urban county mayor, a rural county commissioner, a judge and individuals with expertise in real estate, employment and rehabilitation programs. The board must hold its first meeting no later than June 15 as required by SB72, approved during the 2013 session.
"This is a diverse and independent group of well-qualified Utahns who will help ensure that any proposal to move the prison is examined thoroughly and is in the best interest of Utah and the taxpayer," Herbert said. "At the end of the day, these capable people, based on their expertise, will decide whether to recommend a proposal, or a combination of proposals, for a new prison. I look forward to their work being completed and their recommendation."
The appointees to the 11-member board are:
• Lane Summerhays, board chairman of Advantage Workers Compensation Insurance Company. Summerhays also serves on the boards of the Workers Compensation Fund, Continental Bank, Changing the Odds Founding Council of the United Way and Capitol Campaign Guadalupe School.
• S. Camille Anthony, associate director of the Office of Special Projects for the Center for Homeland Defense & Security. Anthony is a pro tempore member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole and chairwoman of the Utah Substance Abuse Advisory Council.
• Dave Luna, president of Mortgage Educators and Compliance. He is a founder of Honoring Heroes Foundation, a former commissioner for the Utah Division of Real Estate and past chairman of the Hispanic Advisory Council.
• Judith Atherton, 3rd District judge and member of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
• Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County mayor.
• Leland Pollock, a Garfield County Commissioner.
The governor's appointees will join the following legislators: Sens. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton; and Reps. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, and Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. Legislative leaders failed to heed requests from Democrats for representation on the board.
Draper, home to the Utah State Prison, will appoint a representative to fill the final seat on the board.
SB72, sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, charged the newly constituted board with doing preliminary studies and seeking proposals to move the prison and redevelop the 690 acres it has occupied at the Point of the Mountain since the 1950s. The Utah Legislature must approve any recommendations the board makes.
Last year, PRADA's previous members decided that depressed construction costs, low loan rates, savings possible with a modern prison and high interest in the current prison site made the relocation project feasible and timely. Three counties have expressed interest in being home to a new prison, while counties that currently contract to house state inmates say greater use of jails could reduce the size and cost of a new prison facility.
McAdams publicly lobbied for a seat on the board earlier this year during a keynote speech at a League of Women Voters luncheon, noting the board's decision would have a "lasting impact" on the state's largest county and its taxpayers. On Wednesday, McAdams the only elected Democrat on the board again pledged to act as a "watchdog" to ensure the board's decisions are based on facts and data, rather than private interests, and that the process is transparent.
Pollock, who also serves as chairman of the Utah Association of Counties' jail committee, has touted greater reliance on counties as a way to reduce state prison costs.
"I think we can do this in a positive manner and, number one, a cost-effective manner," Pollock said.