15 April 2008

A Field Guide to Sprawl: LULU

Utah State Prison at Draper by jimjohnson13

This post features another of the fifty-one common building patterns defined in the book "A Field Guide to Sprawl" by Dolores Hayden. The Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah is a LULU, or ‘Locally Unwanted Land Use’. A LULU "creates a problem for people because of the way it looks, smells, sounds, or pollutes the environment…Protests against LULUs in newly developing areas with affluent residents may force them to remote locations, thus causing leapfrog development, which advances sprawl. LULUs often wind up located in communities without the political clout to resist them, including poor communities and ones inhabited by people of color." (page 64)

(Deseret Morning News graphic)

This past February, the Salt Lake County and the Draper City Council both passed a resolution asking the state to reconsider moving the prison. When built in 1951, the 700-acre prison was out in the rural landscape of the county, nowhere near the city. Now fifty years later, people actually live in Draper, and they don’t want to live next to prisoners. "If you're going to move the prison, you only want to do it once," said Draper City Manager Eric Keck. (source) Interestingly, I’m sure this was also said back in 1951 when the prison was moved to Draper from Sugarhouse. What he really meant is he only wants the prison to move out of Draper once.

Utah State Prison in the 1950's (Deseret Morning News Archive)

"Campaigns against LULUs are also called NIMBY (not in my backyard), BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near), and NOPE (not on planet earth)." (Hayden, page 64) In spite of this, Draper Council member Jeff Stenquist is quoted as saying, "This is not a case of Draper City not wanting the prison in our backyard. Moving the prison, and claiming that land for a higher-level economic use, would benefit the entire community - Utah County, Salt Lake County and the entire state." (source) So it’s a benefit to the entire state simply by not being in Draper? How does that even make sense?

2005 aerial image by Photographic Solutions

If the city and county have their way, it will only be a matter of time before the prison is moved, which brings up the concern of where they want to move it. According to Steve Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune, County Councilman Jeff Allen is looking at Grantsville or the Salt Lake Valley’s West Bench. Additionally, "past rumors have focused on Tooele and Sanpete counties." (source)

Mapquest aerial image showing Grantsville, Tooele, and the West Bench

Moving the prison further into the rural countryside will greatly impact more than the 1200 employees and 1500 volunteers who work at the prison day and night. "Moving the prison farther out from downtown amenities like courts and hospitals may also add heavy travel costs to provide for the needs and rights of the prisoners", said Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford. Additionally, about 20 to 30 inmates are taken to Salt Lake hospitals each day. And most importantly this will further distance the prisoners from family and friends, resulting in fewer visits. "Positive relationships can help inmates change and are one of the key factors in deciding if an inmate gets parole," said Board of Pardons and Parole member Don Blanchard. (source)

All these support people will have to follow the prison into the next rural setting, building up the rural location into more sprawl. What is not realized is that the prison will be a LULU no matter where it is put, and the further you put it from where people live, the worse you make it for the thousands who work at, volunteer at, provide food for, visit, or otherwise support the prison. So the LULU cycle just keeps repeating itself, and nothing is ever learned…where sprawl is called progress and poorly planned growth is always good.

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