This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Eagle Mountain city leaders are calling into question the work of state consultants in charge of finding a place to build a new state prison. The criticism headlines a 71-page technical report that Mayor Chris Pengra released on his blog Monday.
Provided late last week to the state lawmakers who make up the Prison Relocation Commission, the report argues that consultants offered unreasonably low estimates for utility and transportation costs and used misleading projections of future population growth.
"I am not alleging any willful wrongdoing by the consultants, though I will state clearly that I am quite concerned about some of the representations which have been guiding your decisions on this matter," Pengra wrote in a letter to commission members.
The consultants, led by Bob Nardi of the Louis Berger Group, reported in a December meeting that utility costs including water, stormwater, sewer, electric, gas and data would cost between $24 million and $29 million at the Eagle Mountain site, which is at the southern end of this Utah County city.
Pengra and his team argue that estimate is an unrealistic figure that understates by $13 million the cost of providing drinking water, stormwater management and electricity. It also fails to include a new road to the site that would take prison traffic away from neighborhoods. The consultants and the commission have agreed that such a road is needed.
The city estimates that road would cost $46 million and overall utility and transportation costs would top $104 million.
The city also says that Nardi used population maps that downplayed the likelihood that the land around the prison would be developed in the coming decades, failing to take into consideration already planned residential neighborhoods that would be just two miles from the prison site.
Nardi has yet to respond to a request for comment, having not had time to review the report.
The commission's co-chairmen, Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, have received the report, but have yet to review it.
The land under consideration in Eagle Mountain is owned by the city's founder, John Walden, and its zoning already permits a government facility such as a prison.
This is one of three sites on the commission's short list. The other two are near the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele County and west of Salt Lake City International Airport.
The commission will meet Friday, when it could add other sites to the list. Pengra hopes Eagle Mountain would be dropped at that time, but that appears unlikely. Wilson said the meeting is to update the process.
"We will not be discussing the sites yet," he said.
Salt Lake City officials offered a similar technical report about two potential sites earlier in the process. The commission did step back from a site north of the airport because it contained significant wetlands, something the city noted. The commission is continuing to consider land west of the airport.
Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, said last week that Gov. Gary Herbert told him in a private conversation that he favored that site near the airport for the new prison.