PRESCOTT VALLEY - Corrections Corporation of America has scuttled plans to consider land off Fain Road for a private prison because the company lacks support from the Town Council, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"We are no longer considering that site in Prescott Valley," said Louise Grant from corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. "We certainly are focusing on a number of (other) areas."
Grant declined to say whether CCA is considering other potential sites in Yavapai County, such as the Drake area north of Chino Valley.
Grant spoke four days after Brad Wiggins, CCA's senior director for site acquisition, notified Gary Marks, executive director of the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation of the company's decision.
"This is to provide you with formal notice that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has terminated our site selection activities in Prescott Valley," Wiggins wrote Marks.
"We certainly thank you for the support shown to us by your organization and the local leadership group members," Wiggins wrote. However, he added CCA "effective immediately" has removed Prescott Valley from consideration as a potential site.
"This action follow our decision last week to suspend public outreach programs and I trust that you will share this letter with the appropriate Town officials so that they may know of our decision."
Wiggins dated the letter eight days after three members of the council told an audience at a packed meeting that they opposed the location within a mile of subdivisions. Mayor Harvey Skoog went public a day earlier - Jan. 27 - against the site.
The council did not take a formal vote, but the majority opposition all but killed plans by CCA and the foundation to proceed with further consideration of the site near the Grapevine Industrial Park.
The council took a similar stance - without a vote - in October 2007 after residents organized opposition to a private prison by Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah. Foundation officials had brought that company's plans to town officials.
The foundation staff e-mailed a press release Feb. 2 indicating CCA canceled outreach meetings in the CASA Senior Center and the Ravenridge subdivision.
Marks is attending a conference in Anaheim, Calif., and could not be reached for comment regarding Wiggins' letter.
Jeri Ann Kooiman, a real estate broker who heads the foundation board, acknowledged CCA's decision in a voicemail to The Daily Courier while adding she did not have "much of a statement."
Foundation officials and other prison supporters cited the benefit of jobs and increased revenues for the community that a prison housing as many as 5,000 inmates would create. Opponents expressed fears about higher crime, declining property values and the stigma of becoming a "prison town," as well as CCA's reputation.
Councilwoman Patty Lasker, who favored continuing the process because she believes the prison would create badly needed jobs, commented, "Now is the time for the community to heal. We need to move past this and look forward to exploring other opportunities for job growth."
However, former councilman Tom Steele, who spearheaded opposition to the prison, will not let the issue die.
"It is not a dead issue," Steele said. "I want a registered vote on their position (of the council members) in Prescott Valley that they will never support a prison in Prescott Valley."
Steele said a decision Tuesday afternoon to delete from Thursday's council agenda a presentation by Frank Smith of the Private Corrections Working Group, which is critical of private prisons, amounts to an insult to prison opponents.
Smith, who lives in Harper County, Kan., said, "I'm still going to attend. I have a nonrefundable (plane) ticket from Wichita (Kan.) to Dallas and to Phoenix."
Skoog said, "I'm not interested in listening to him. It's a dead issue."