The Green Bay Correctional Institution has been around for more than a century. Some say it's outlived its usefulness and are calling for a change.
Should the prison close, Village of Allouez board members say it could be a huge financial windfall for the community.
The board has approved a plan Tuesday evening to study just how much it could bring in.
"One can only imagine what one will see when standing up on Webster Ave. at the top of a brand new development with lots of exciting places or housing options," said Jim Rafter, village board president.
That can only happen if the state government decides to shut down the old facility and build a new one somewhere else.
"We want to be prepared to let them know that we're prepared to move forward and develop that property into something very special," said Rafter.
While no one spoke out against the study, Mary Harrison of Allouez says she wants to see prison reform alongside new buildings.
"It’s important to remember that there are a lot of people inside those walls and that we will save a lot of money if we have proper policy, science based policy, to support both the staff and the prisoners," said Harrison.
In a statement, a state department of corrections spokesman says:
Our focus is the safe and secure operation of our 36 adult DOC facilities. Under Secretary Jess’ leadership, the Department is working closely with staff and managers to identify changes that will increase facility safety and security. The Department is also working diligently to fill vacant positions.
Included in the 2017 – 2019 biennial budget is language which establishes a Correctional Facilities Planning Committee to develop a long-range master plan of Department facilities which must be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature.
Building a new prison could save state taxpayers money as well.
Rep. David Steffen of Howard, who has been one of the lawmakers leading the charge to close the GBCI, said in a statement:
"Decommissioning Allouez's maximum security prison and re-locating the prisoners to a new, modern facility in the region will provide $150 million in taxpayers savings over the next 10 years in operational and deferred maintenance costs. This does not include the many benefits to the workers and inmates that come with a safer, state-of-the-art facility. The taxpayers and residents of Brown County will also benefit from the $80 million of economic development that will follow on the current prison site.
Quite simply, this will be the largest economic and transformational opportunity in Allouez's history. The time to rally behind this idea and make this happen is now."