LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. — First it was carbon dioxide pipelines that people in eastern South Dakota didn’t want.
Now, it’s a prison.
The South Dakota Department of Corrections announced recently the agreement to purchase two 160-acre parcels of land in rural Lincoln County for a new men’s state prison. The announcement has stirred up mixed emotions for residents.
The land is already owned by the state of South Dakota through the Office of School and Public Lands. State law allows Schools and Public Lands to transfer property to another government entity for the appraised value.
Lincoln County locals are voicing concerns over the newly proposed men’s prison site. The location of the new men’s prison is roughly five miles south of Harrisburg (a community of around 7,700) and eight miles northwest of Canton with a population of a little over 3,000 residents. The land is located along 278th Street and 477th Avenue in the Dayton Township.
In an interview with KELO News, Reid Vander Veen, who farms land a short distance from the proposed site, says he and his neighbors are not excited about the announcement and have a lot of questions.
Others point to negative impacts on growth in the area, land valuations, and the simple fact that the news was sprung on them without warning.
Harrisburg Mayor Derick Wenck told KELO News the site is only three and a half miles from the city limits. He said the city is actively looking for ways to stop the project from moving forward.
South Dakota Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko stated that the location is the best choice for a modern correctional facility that supports the state’s public safety needs, minimizes the impact on community growth, and keeps them close to an available workforce.
According to project details, the new prison would have 400+ employees, cost $500-$600 million, be built on 100-200 acres and heavy industrial or agricultural use zoning would be preferred to reduce potential impacts.
Noem said in July the state’s $96.8 million budget surplus could be used for prison construction costs.
“We appreciate Governor Noem’s leadership, the Legislature’s financial support and Commissioner Greenfield’s work to secure this land for the state’s public safety needs for generations to come,” Wasko said in a news release.