ICE facility in Pine Island? Story melts under scrutiny
PINE ISLAND — Don’t expect the prison vans to start running back and forth between Pine Island and the Twin Cities anytime soon.
David Todd, Pine Island city administrator, said the city was approached several months ago by a company that contracts with the federal government to provide detention facilities.
"It was just an informal conversation," he said.
An Associated Press story from Friday said Management & Training Corp. had submitted a preliminary proposal to build a 640-bed detention center in Pine Island. The story said the facility would be used to house people being processed for deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Todd said that about the time the city was contacted, someone also approached John Pierce, a senior vice president with Tower Investments, the company that owns Elk Run, to inquire about property.
"Most of the questions were logistical," Todd said. "How do we get sewer and water out there? What will traffic flow look like?"
After a 30-minute meeting with a representative of the detention facility company, Todd said, the man left and promised to let the city know what the next step would be. That was some time in the fall.
"It was so preliminary, and there were four or five cities being considered," Todd said. "We didn’t really think much of it because it was so long ago. Nothing was carved in stone."
Not that Pine Island wouldn’t welcome such a facility, he said. Elk Run would be the perfect location since it’s outside of the main populated part of the city. Furthermore, a 640-bed facility would bring jobs and probably residential development. "It really would be an economic driver," he said.
The main concern from the city’s point of view, Todd said, would be safety, but the detention center would essentially be a holding facility for those being processed for deportation.
"The building they modeled for us in pictures looked like a high school with a fence around it," Todd said. "It’s not meant to be a maximum security facility."