Kenai Assembly wants feasibility study of private prison

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is considering hiring an independent contractor to do a feasibility study of the impacts of a proposed private prison.

The borough wants to build an 800-bed, medium security prison near the Wildwoood Correctional Facility and has entered into an agreement with a group led by Cornell Corrections, which would build and operate the prison.

The study would look at how the prison would affect roads, sewers, local law enforcement, schools and health care facilities. Members also want to know more about wages for prison jobs.

''We've got a lot of facts and fiction out there that hasn't been clarified,'' said Assembly President Tim Navarre. ''The Assembly is still getting up to speed on the issues.''

The Assembly will consider a request for proposals at its June 5th meeting. If approved, the borough would begin seeking bidders to conduct the study, which could take up to six months to complete.

Decisions on the feasibility study come amid calls for a vote by borough residents on the prison proposal. Assemblyman Pete Sprague of Soldotna has proposed placing an advisory vote on the October ballot. James Price of Nikiski wants a vote that would give residents the final word on whether the prison should be built.

''I really feel people are being railroaded,'' Price said Wednesday. ''I'm very much afraid that if we allow the borough to continue down this path,by the time we decide we don't want it, it'll be too late.

If the Assembly approves the feasibility study at its June 5 meeting, the borough would begin seeking bidders to conduct the study.

A feasibility study could take six months to complete, which would mean it may not be done in time for the October municipal election.

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