By Elsa Maxey
Part of Sugar Land’s history is about to come to an end. The concluding chapter on the Central Prison Unit that started over 100 years ago is being written and it will end, when the prison closes by the end of August.
It is a part of history with an end, much as the Imperial Sugar Factory that closed in 2002 has been to the city. But, it, too, will give way and turn over a piece of property for something else in store for the evolving city that has gained so much national acclaim and commendation in the past decade, documented by numerous awards and recognitions. The city has plans to turn the area into a business park that will help generate revenue with possibly a small portion of the 325 to 330 acres being dedicated to the airport for its use. For now, the General Land Office (GLO) owns the land.
Sugar Land spokesperson Doug Adolph said that Sugar Land understands the GLO could exercise a number of options for the prison property. “Not all of them would involve Sugar Land’s acquisition of the property,” he said, but “it’s our intent to be involved in the process.”
For the time being, reports mention that within the past couple of weeks, inmates from other prisons were bused in to the Central Prison Unit. At least one of those buses was spotted locally at the intersection of State Highway 6 and U.S. 90A heading towards the property. Prisoners were reported to have helped dismantle metal bunks and they also moved out furniture. As for the inmates of the Central Prison Unit, the ones that had been housed there were sent to other prisons earlier in the month, according to accounts.
What is understood about the prison closure is that it was fueled by the state’s budget shortfall. It represented an opportunity for Texas to save $12.5 million a year and it came to pass.
And now, Sugar Land, itself, will have made history with the prison closure, too. The city will have been the first in Texas to have had a prison closed. Bittersweet in more ways than one!