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Aquatic Center Proponents Not Throwing In The Towel

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Bond Issue Fails To Get 60-percent 'Yes' Vote Needed For Passage

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Despite failing to pass a $4.7 million bond issue for construction of an outdoor aquatic center in Glenwood, proponents of the project say they’re encouraged by results of the May 6 special election and intend to bring  it to another public vote in the future.

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The bond issue received the support of 52 percent of city of Glenwood voters. The “Yes” votes outnumbered the “No” votes 503-465, but Iowa law requires approval of at least 60 percent of voters to pass a bond issue.

“We did get the majority. We got 52 percent, we just didn’t get the super majority,” Glenwood Aquatics Center Committee spokesperson Mary Gunderson said. “We’re meeting Monday night. We’re going to look at our options, but we’re definitely moving forward with this project.

“We’re going to take it back to the drawing board and probably do some more public outreach and ask people, ‘If we do make some changes to this, what would you like to see? What would you like to see stay? What would you like to see go?’ We want public input on this.”
Gunderson said committee members who have been working for several months in developing and promoting the project were uncertain of how the vote would go on Election Day. She noted, however, conversations with Glenwood residents before and after the election indicate a high level of interest in the project.

“This project seemed to be very black and white with people,” Gunderson said. “It was a passionate ‘yes,’ passionate ‘absolutely,’ passionate ‘I can’t wait to march into that voting booth and mark yes’ or it was absolutely ‘no.’ It was very much black and white, there wasn’t a lot of gray with it.”

Gunderson and Glenwood city administrator Brian Kissel both said they expect some tweaking to the aquatic center proposal to take place before the issue is brought to the vote of city residents again, most likely in March 2015.

Kissel said it’s likely the city and aquatic center committee will look at an “Option 2” proposal that would fund the “Lazy River” portion of the project with grants and other private dollars, reducing the bond issue by $800,000.  Kissel said he heard from some Glenwood residents who voted “No” because the city has yet to secure grants or private funding for the project, but noted that many grant and private funding sources want to see a local commitment from a community before pledging financial support.

Kissel said the decision to bring another aquatic center vote to the residents of Glenwood will rest in the hands of the city council.

“They’re my boss,” Kissel said. “They tell me whether or not that’s something they want me to pursue.”

Twenty-nine percent of Glenwood’s 3,320 registered voters cast a ballot in the special election. In 2010, Glenwood voters rejected a $2.2 million bond issue for an outdoor swimming pool by a tally of 745-706 (49 percent approval). The 2010 vote had higher participation than this year’s, but took place on the November general election ballot.