February 11, 2016

U.S. Bureau of Prison Officials schedule time to talk with property owners around Standish Max


STANDISH — Officials from the United States Bureau of Prisons will take a second tour of the Standish Maximum Security Prison the week of Aug. 16 and meet with local officials and around 30 property owners around the prison, discussing the possibility of converting the prison to a federal facility.

Arenac County Board of Commissioners Chairman Raymond Daniels said property owners will be interviewed by BOP officials in groups of four or five for 15 to 30 minutes on Aug. 18.

“The (officials) are at least showing interest in the community,” Daniels said. “There are no guarantees but at least there will be an understanding.”

Daniels is one of the local officials the BOP officials will be meeting with during their tour.

“The ball is in their court right now,” Daniels said. “We just have to have answers for the questions they have.”

U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak said the BOP officials have shown continued interest in the prison.

“They are more than interested in this facility,” he said.

Stupak added that the officials have been serious about buying the facility since they looked at it as a possibility for Guantanamo Bay prisoners in August of 2009.

“They liked what they saw,” he said.

Stupak added that although previous employees may not be able to work at the prison right away, they could still apply.

He said if the prison were to reopen it would be a win for the area because new employees need a place to live, shop and send children to school.

“The city would see an impact all the way down to the local bagel shop,” Stupak said.

The prison closed in October and Standish City Manager Mike Moran said the impact of the jail being shutdown can be felt around the community.

“The city has lost an average of $36,000 a month in revenue,” he said.

Moran said he is “keeping my fingers crossed” for the prison to be re-opened. He said since the prison closed a number of residents have left the area.

He said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the visit.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman John Cordell said that the BOP officials will look at all aspects of the prison to determine if it is a good fit for federal prisoners.

He said this visit is different from the first visit in 2009 because it only pertains to federal prisoners and not prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Last year BOP officials chose the Thomas Correctional Center in Illinois over the Standish Prison to house some Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Cordell said the prison is ready to run tomorrow if need be.

“It’s a great facility and if it got running again it would be a win for the city of Standish,” he said.

Cordell said if the prison were to reopen it would create around 300 new jobs. He said the city and the prison could enter a utility sharing agreement, bringing more money to the city.

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