SCI Greensburg: A dubious deal
A $7.6 million “payout” brings into serious question the pending sale of the shuttered SCI Greensburg property, if not the credibility of the state’s Corrections Department.
Turns out Carlisle businessman David Goldsmith had a decade-old contract with the state for a steam energy plant, which he built at the prison to provide electricity. This month Mr. Goldsmith submitted the presumptive winning $950,000 bid for the property.
Talk about a return on investment.
In 2013, when the state announced plans to close prisons in Hempfield and Cresson, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said, “I don’t know that we have to buy (the thermal plant) out.” Fast-forward to October 2014. In a letter to Goldsmith, Corrections wrote that the state would end the thermal plant contract on Feb. 28 and pay him $7.6 million.
Now the Department of General Services, which ran the bidding, hasn’t decided whether to accept the bid and Corrections hasn’t “decided anything regarding the thermal plant buyout,” according to a Corrections spokeswoman.
What a fiasco. Combined with the $2.5 million spent to maintain the mothballed prison, the buyout pushes the state’s tab above $10 million.
In the long term, closing older prisons for the newly built one in Centre County made sense. But all considerations should have been clear two years ago — not after the fact amid the state’s fumbling to close this deal.