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Senator questions claim for payment on failed prison project

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Delta Junction and a private prison company may have ''settled'' their lawsuit by agreeing to ask the federal government to pay them $3 million, but U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens wants to see more information.

''I believe there's a responsibility for the federal government to look into this to see to what extent there should be compensation from the base closure fund,'' said Stevens, R-Alaska, on Friday.

Stevens said he could see how the failed prison proposal at Fort Greely outside Delta Junction might result in a ''potential claim'' against the federal government.

The government said it would shut down the base but has not done so, he noted. The base is a prime candidate to house a proposed national missile defense system's rocketry. However, whether the missile plans themselves have doomed the prison proposal is a question to be investigated by the military's base closure personnel, he said.

''I don't think it's my job to make that determination,'' he said.

Stevens also expressed skepticism about whether the federal government owes any money to Delta Junction and the private prison company it signed a contract with, Allvest.

''It was not a federal plan to proceed with the prison; it was a plan of the state,'' Stevens said.

The Delta Junction City Council agreed last week to settle the lawsuit Allvest filed against it for backing out of an agreement to use Fort Greely as a private prison once the federal government closed it.

The city, acting as the local authority to decide how the closed base should be used, entered the contract with Allvest early in 1999. After council elections that year, the city council voted to rescind the agreement. Allvest sued.

Under the settlement agreement, the two parties agreed to ask the federal government to reimburse them $3 million for the planning work they did on the project. Allvest is to take the lead in the request, according to the settlement.

About $2.5 million would go to the company and $500,000 to the city.

Stevens said Friday he had received a letter from the mayor of Delta, but had not seen a dollar figure on the settlement request anywhere but in newspaper reports.



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