Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bill OKs TDCJ-SHSU Land Deal

The Huntsville Item reports [June 29] that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be donating land to SHSU as a site for its planned research park criminal justice programs after a bill sponsored by State Sen. Charles Schwertner was signed by the governor in May.
The Item issued a correction to this story on July 3 (details below).

Senate Bill 1157 allows The Texas Department of Criminal Justice to donate more than 78 acres of land, in a parcel located on Highway 75 North across from the City Service Center, to the university by no later than Jan. 1, 2014. SHSU Vice-President of Finance and Operations Al Hooten said the land would be used for its so-called research park, which will include the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and Correctional Management Institute of Texas programs.

“It is our intent to relocate the LEMIT and CMIT programs and provide other training facilities for TDCJ at that site,” Hooten said. “It is our desire that these efforts will further our long-standing working relationship with TDCJ in the area of criminal justice.  Also, the relocation of these programs from the main campus to this property releases considerable space that the University needs for the continued growth of academic programs at the main campus."

The programs are currently located in the criminal justice center on the main campus of SHSU. The programs provide training for law enforcement officers from U.S. and international departments. It’s unclear if other programs will join LEMIT and CMIT at the location after getting less than half the acreage than originally planned.

The new park site is located adjacent to the HEARTS Veterans Museum, which Hooten said SHSU supports, but the university would not own the property.

Plans for the a research park were formally announced on Sept. 6, 2012, when Dr. Dana Gibson, SHSU president, spoke to the university in her annual address to faculty and staff.

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In a written statement to the Item’s request for information about the signing of Senate Bill 1157...nowhere did Vice President Hooten refer to the use of the land as a research park. The land, as stated in the response from the university, will be used to relocate the LEMIT and CMIT programs and provide other training facilities for TDCJ at that site. While Sam Houston State University continues to investigate options for establishing a research park in the future, there are no plans to begin construction of a research park at the location mentioned in the article.