Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Poll: Cecil Prison Plan Not Favored

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Poll: Cecil Prison Plan Not Favored

Article excerpt

A plan to build a state prison at Cecil Field Naval Air Station

generally lacks support among Duval County residents and is

actively opposed by most people in the neighborhoods nearest the

base, a Times-Union opinion survey shows.

Countywide, 34 percent of people the newspaper surveyed said

they're against the pro- posal, compared with 26 percent who

favor it. The rest had no opinion.

In southwestern Jacksonville, 55 percent said they opposed

the prison, which state officials propose building once the

Navy closes Cecil Field in 1998. The proposal is part of a

base redevelopment plan being considered by a mayoral

commission.

The survey was done Feb. 15 through Monday and was based on

phone interviews with 613 adults living in the county. The

survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage

points.

It adds to the burden prison supporters will carry when the

commission meets Monday to debate one last time whether the

prison should be included in the redevelopment plan.

Prison support on the commission has eroded in the past 10 days,

in part because state corrections officials have recanted

projections that a prison would employ 1,500 people. New

projections say it would employ about 450 people instead,

hurting an argument that the prison would restore a large part

of the jobs and spending power the Westside economy is losing

with the base closure.

Commission Chairman Mike Hightower said yesterday the poll's

large undecided bloc -- 40 percent countywide -- reflects public

confusion over the issue, and he said the changing job numbers

have greatly weakened the case for the prison.

"You can't get public support unless you have public

understanding," Hightower said. "We're dealing with a lot of

numbers that are moving, and I think we need to get them nailed

down. …

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