“Plans for local prison”
From a column by editor Rusty Bellringer in the Knik Arm Courier, Oct. 7, 1970:
Captain David Webb, Supervisor for the Department of Corrections, spoke at a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce concerning plans to construct a medium security correction institute, possibly planned for Eagle River.
Three possible locations are: 1) a 216-acre site south of the Eagle River campground on state land; 2) a site adjacent to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage; and 3) a parcel of state land which might be available located near the Alaska Railroad in Birchwood.
A federally funded site study is currently underway, Webb stated. The results of this study should be completed within 10 to 15 days. Construction would be completed in December 1972.
Webb explained that the deciding factors are availability and suitability of the land. The facility would house 120 inmates initially, with the ability to expand to a maximum of 300. A staff of up to 70 people would be employed. The facility would be built through a direct appropriation of 5.2 million dollars from the previous state legislature.
Webb said that if chosen, only a portion of the 216 acre site in Eagle River would be used and that a 16-foot barbed wire fence would enclose the complex. It would be a medium security prison and would be equipped with its own sewage treatment plant. Maximum security inmates would be sent out of state. Webb indicated that the Eagle River site had the best expansion options. When asked if a pro or con reaction from Chugiak Area residents might influence the decision of the prison location, he said it would certainly be one of the factors to be considered.
Note: The Hiland Mountain Correctional Institute didn’t actually open until 1974.
(This report was condensed and edited by the Memory Retrievers writing group.)
This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 688-4706.