Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Public hearings to take testimony on prison

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, December 18, 2006

PALMER—Public hearings will take place in or near each of the communities where the prison project may be built.

The proposed sites still under consideration are near Sutton, Houston, Point MacKenzie, and south Palmer.

The four public hearings are: Nov. 13, Monday, at the Palmer Depot from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Nov. 18, Saturday, at Goose Bay Elementary from 10 a.m. to noon; Nov. 18 Saturday, at Houston High School from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Nov. 20, Monday, at Sutton Elementary School from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The public hearings were rescheduled from earlier dates because our city and Borough elected officials will be in Juneau for a conference during the original dates.

The prison project requires a minimum of 160 useable acres. Some of the criteria for choosing a site are: whether the footprint of the project fits the land, whether there is clear title on the land, whether there is adequate water supply, and how high are site development costs, among others. Each site has pros and cons.

At each public hearing, the contractor, RISE Alaska, will give a brief overview on how the list of proposed sites was shortened from 16 to eight, and from eight to four. RISE will also give a numerical count for support and opposition to each site, to date, and technical evaluations for Phase II, to date. The primary purpose of the meeting is to hear public testimony so RISE will limit its presentation to ten minutes. The public will also be able to submit written testimony. The public hearings will be recorded. A court reporter will transcribe all the hearings. The second public comment period ends Nov. 24.

Other dates of note are:

  • The Phase II comment period runs until Nov. 24.
  • Following the public comment period the site selection committee, including representatives from the Alaska Department of Corrections, the MAT-SU Borough, and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, will meet to decide on a site recommendation with one or two alternative sites in the event that the recommended site proves unsuitable. Their recommendation will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and Assembly.
  • The Planning Commission public hearing is Dec. 4. The Planning Commission will be asked to endorse the recommended preferred site and alternate(s). The Planning Commission action will be forwarded to the Assembly for their consideration and final approval.
  • A public hearing is scheduled before the Assembly on Jan. 16. The final site requires Assembly approval.

The four proposed sites still under consideration include one on private land and three on public land.

The site on private land is:

  • Palmer South, (site #14) located south of Palmer in the old gravel pits near the Old Matanuska Townsite and the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge southeast of the Glenn Highway. It is owned by a construction company, Quality Asphalt & Paving.

The three sites on public land are:

  • Houston -- Zero Lake (Site #11)
  • Sutton (Site #7)-- Glenn Highway Mile 58, at site of existing Palmer Correctional Center
  • Point MacKenzie (Site #12)-- Alsop Road

The prison is a joint project between three public entities, the Alaska Department of Corrections, the MAT-SU Borough, and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

An Anchorage management company, RISE Alaska, conducted the open house on Oct. 12 and will also run the public hearings on Nov. 13, Nov. 18, and Nov. 20.

For overall project information contact AHFC's Project Manager Stuart Barrows (907) 330-8118. For more information on sites, contact MAT-SU Community Development Director Ron Swanson (907) 745-9631; for state Dept. of Corrections, contact Facilities Manager Ted Kinney (907) 269-7361. For financing questions, contact MAT-SU Finance Director Tammy Clayton (907) 745-9630.

For more information on the prison project see the prison project Web page on the Borough site: Click on the prison icon to see maps, matrixes, project descriptions, timelines, photos, among other items. For general information, contact Public Affairs Manager Patty Sullivan at (907) 745-9577.

Email public comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail comments to Don Simmons, Rise Alaska LLC, 880 H Street, Suite 101, Anchorage, AK 99501