State seeks to unload 123-acre Hempfield prison site
The state wants to sell the 123-acre parcel containing the soon-to-be-closed state prison in Hempfield, a site that Westmoreland County officials said Monday would be good for an office park or another kind of job-creating, taxpaying business.
“I want to see something that will create jobs and pay taxes. We want the maximum economic impact for the county,” said county Commissioner Charles Anderson.
State Correctional Institution-Greensburg, which the state values at $1.5 million, is one of 13 surplus properties the Department of General Services wants to sell this year, according to the plan the department presented Monday to the Senate Government Committee. General Services estimates it would cost the state about $2 million a year to properly maintain the 32 buildings at the site.
The Hempfield lockup will be included on a list of properties to be offered for sale and submitted to Gov. Tom Corbett for final approval by June 15. Before the state will ready the property for sale, the state House and Senate would have to approve the plan, which may not occur until the new fiscal year that begins July 1, said Troy Thompson, a spokesman for the General Services department.
If the plan is approved, the state would get a formal appraisal of the value of the property before it is marketed, Thompson said.
The Corrections Department announced in January that it was closing SCI-Greensburg because of the higher costs of operating the 44-year-old facility, compared with the $200 million prison in Benner Township, which is north of State College. The Hempfield lockup had 950 inmates in January, but now has only about 500 remaining to be transferred to the new prison in Centre County. The transfer is expected to be completed by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, said Susan McNaughton, a Corrections Department spokeswoman.
SCI-Greensburg had about 400 jobs when the closing was announced, but only about 290 jobs remain, McNaughton said.
The prison site along Route 119, a few miles south of Route 30 and north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's New Stanton interchange, would be ideal for a business, Anderson said.
“We'll see who steps up and buys it,” Anderson said.
Westmoreland County will not be one of those potential buyers, Anderson said. The county is not interested in purchasing the property or trying to market it through the county's Industrial Development Corp. Anderson said. The industrial development agency has developed 17 industrial parks.
The site would be good for an office park, but not for industrial development because the topography is sloped and the only level property is where the prison sits, said James Smith, president of the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland.
“We are pushing to have the Department of General Services aggressively market the property,” said state. Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield.
The critical factor in successfully marketing the property would be demolishing the prison, Smith said.
Demolition costs have been estimated at about $15 million.
“It would be much better to demolish it than spending all that money ($2 million a year) and watching it deteriorate,” Anderson said.
State Rep. Tim Krieger, R-Delmont, said he anticipates learning more about the state's plans for marketing and selling the property when the General Services department officials testify before the House State Government Committee on Wednesday.
Krieger said he wants to get some firm figures on demolition costs and plans for the property.
Legislators looked at the possibility of including an appropriation in the state budget to handle the demolition costs, Ward said.
“At some point, it's going to be a total loss if they don't sell it,” Ward said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Endowment of $3.49B makes University of Pittsburgh 25th richest in U.S.
- Suspect in West Newton burglary sought, alleged accomplice arrested
- Westmoreland County settles with fired public defender
- 3 injured in 2-vehicle accident on Arona Road in Hempfield
- Rostraver Democrat aims for 1 of 3 open spots on Westmoreland County bench
- IRS scam snares another Westmoreland County resident
- Woman pays $178 fine for Westmoreland courthouse conduct
- Braddock man held for trial in Jeannette assault, robbery
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
- New Alexandria tree trimmer pleads guilty to fraud
- Krieger to seek Westmoreland County Common Pleas judgeship