FARMINGTON - Any proposal to expand the county jail would not be supported by this city council, or likely any future council.
“We have an extremely large concern about any large jail expansion,” said Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim.
The city’s most recent concern about the issue was expressed during a Prison Relocation and Development Authority public hearing held last week in Salt Lake City.
That has to do with whether the Draper prison should be moved. One idea being considered would see various county jails expanded to take some of the prison population, should it be moved, said County Commissioner Bret Millburn.
“Instead of building megaprisons, we could use a number of existing jails that would be enhanced” to meet the needs of additional prisoners, he said.
Davis County has contracted with the state for many years to house some state inmates. Many other counties do the same.
“It may cost less to add onto an existing facility than to build a new prison,” Millburn said.
But while he said the county is open to considering the idea of potentially expanding, “that doesn’t mean we’re committed to it. We just want to keep our options open,” he said.
“We may need more beds even to house our own population” at some point in the future, Millburn said, regardless of other needs.
“We understand Farmington’s concerns. This isn’t guaranteeing that we will (expand),” he said.
“We will be engaging in conversation with our local communities, particularly Farmington. They’d have to be a partner. We’re not trying to overstep our local folks,” Millburn emphasized.
Millheim, meanwhile, said that conditions have changed since the last jail expansion about a decade ago.
“There wasn’t a whole lot out there. But the city envisioned the area was going to grow,” he said. “That’s why we said we’d have heartburn with any expansion.”
Hundreds of homes have been built in that area of west Farmington, a school is being built near the jail, Station Park has come about in the last couple of years, and a regional park is in its first phases of construction, Millheim pointed out.
“We just don’t think expansion there makes any sense whatsoever,” he said.
From a standpoint of moving the prison, Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said “no decision has been made. There is no intent of counties taking prisoners if they don’t want them.”
He and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, sit on the prison relocation committee studying the issue.
“I don’t think the state should ramrod jail relocation onto any municipality,” although some areas might welcome the economic boost such a facility would bring, Millheim said.
“We don’t need it and we don’t want it. We have an existing jail, we work well with the county on that. It’s here, we accept the fact, do the best we can from both sides, but we don’t want to see it expanded,” he said.