Cecil Field Naval Air Station, scheduled to close in 1998, is being considered as the site of a prison complex for at least 1,100 inmates, Florida Department of Corrections officials say.
"We're real interested in it. We're serious," said Ron Kronenberger, assistant secretary for the Department of Corrections.
If the land and money are available, the complex could expand to five major institutions housing about 5,000 inmates and employing about 1,500 people.
One 1,000-acre tract being eyed by DOC is at the Yellow Water Weapons Complex. Another is at the Whitehouse field, about five miles north of Cecil Field.
The Yellow Water site, once used to store nuclear weapons in hardened bunkers, also is being considered as a juvenile detention facility.
The DOC says a number of buildings at the main base could house prison employees and be used for a training school for corrections officers statewide.
A 1,100-bed prison at Cecil Field would employ about 325 people, provide a $9-million annual payroll and an economic impact of about $25-million, Kronenberger said.
The state would anticipate expanding by at least one 1,100 bed prison and a 275-bed work camp.