What will replace the Big Pine Key Road Prison?

The mention of a vacant prison brings to mind dark hallways, empty cells and even spooky tales of the past.

But that’s not the case with the now-closed Big Pine Key Road Prison where, up until its closing in April, guards didn’t even carry guns.

“Only pepper spray, a radio and handcuffs. I’m going to miss this place,” former corrections officer Cody Moeller said to Mornoe County officials on a recent tour of the prison.

Moeller used to supervise inmate road crews who served time at the minimum-security facility and were charged with maintaining U.S. 1.

He showed county Mayor George Neugent, County Administrator Roman Gastesi and others the cafeteria, bunk room, shower area, murals painted by the inmates, banana plants, a recreation area and the grave of a cat named Keffey, said county information officer Cammy Clark.

Alternative uses for the 10-acre property are in the works, she said.

The prison opened in the 1950s and once housed inmates who had committed violent crimes, but in recent decades, the facility on Key Deer Boulevard had been a minimum-security prison. It was home to 60 or so inmates…

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