Union city officials have a major decision to make regarding pursuing a new park in east Union, according to City Administrator Russell Rost.
Now that a sales tax initiative to fund the new park and sports complex has failed for a second time, Rost said aldermen must decide if they want to seek other funding measures, or no longer pursue building a park.
“The question that has to be answered is this a ‘NO’ to the source of revenue, or a ‘NO’ to the park altogether,” he said.
The “Proposition Park” tax proposed to voters in Tuesday’s election failed by 77 votes. There were 498 votes in favor of the proposed half-cent sales tax and 574 votes against it.
“They have spoken, and now we need to figure out what they are saying,” Rost said. “We see how it sits as a priority. At some point the board will have to make a tough decision on what they want to do.
“We have to decide how to proceed, or if we proceed, but it is really too early to tell where we will go from here,” he added.
The sales tax was proposed to fund a new “Veterans Memorial Park.” Plans called for two soccer fields, a football field, and a large tournament baseball/softball field and four smaller fields.
Also in the plans were marshlands and water sources to be utilized as a conservation area, or “passive” park, as well as picnic areas and shelters.
There also would have been playgrounds, a maintenance shed, lakes or ponds, pavilions and other amenities, including a “loop trail” intertwined with smaller trails.
This is the second time a sales tax was put to voters and failed.
In April 2011, a proposed sales tax that would have funded the park and Union Parks and Recreation Department operations was voted down. The measure lost by 88 votes.
Officials have said that an election was held in June to get a firm grasp of what residents really want because the tax would be the only issue on the election.
There were 17 percent of voters who showed up to the polls.
“I think people who had a strong opinion one way or another came out and voted,” said Rost.
The city purchased 43.8 acres of land earmarked for a park off Progress Parkway south of Highway 50.
SWT Design utilized requests and demographics to determine the city’s parks needs that could be met at the east park location.
Elected city officials, city staff, members of the east park development committee and Franklin County youth sports leaders submitted requests to SWT Design of what they would like to see included in the park.
The cost to construct the park is estimated at over $9 million, however, officials have said that figure is “inflated.”
East Park History
A group called the Franklin County Youth Sports Organization (FCYSO) was the initial driving force in the push for more sports fields to support the growing number of children who participate in baseball, softball, soccer and football.
The city purchased the land earmarked for a park, and the FCYSO later disbanded.
A city east park development committee formed, which included members of the FCYSO, sports organization heads and parks and recreation advisory board members.