Federal prison rattles cages Government:Residents voice displeasure with prison location.
RYAN DAUGHERTY/Staff Writer
BARSTOW � The message delivered to City Council during a regular Monday meeting was �not in my backyard.�
Four residents denounced a proposed 1,000 to 1,500 bed minimum-security federal prison for criminal aliens with a purported average sentence of six months during a regular council meeting held at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.
�I�m not really dead set against this prison, I�m dead set against the location of this prison,� said Gary Wike. He added that the house he built himself sets less than a mile from the proposed prison site.
�I�m going to eat dirt and sand from the wind when they disturb the ground,� he said.
Hinkley resident Mark Orr also voiced his displeasure.
�Don�t have it right next door,� he said. �You need to put that thing out in the boonies.�
Barstow resident Paul Sweeney suggested council put the prison issue on a referendum to get a better idea of how many people wanted it.
�Most people don�t feel a prison would make Barstow a better place to live,� he said. �If we�re going to have a prison, why not have it at another location?�
Barstow resident Pat Aleman concurred with Sweeney�s idea for a referendum.
�Sometimes there comes an issue that cannot be decided by five people,� he told the council.
Barstow resident Patricia Keeling said the prison would do little to enhance the city�s image.
�I don�t want Barstow to become Ludlow or worse places in the desert,� she said.
After hearing public comments, the City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution declaring its support for the proposed prison, with Councilwoman Gloria Darling absent.
Wackenhut Corrections Corp. and Cornell Corrections Inc. submitted proposals to operate the prison to the federal Bureau of Prisons in January. A contract is expected to be awarded to one of the two firms sometime this fall.
Under Wackenhut�s proposal, the prison would be located on a 64-acre lot west of Lenwood Road between Jasper Road and Agate Road. Cornell�s proposal would occupy 79 acres in the same area.
About a year ago, a proposed state prison in Lenwood that would have been run by a private corporation was halted after the Department of Corrections abruptly canceled the bid in December 1999.