Converse County voters narrowly defeated a measure to continue a 6th-cent tax that would have raised $80 million for Glenrock Recreation Center renovations and a new Douglas Recreation Center.
The measure failed by 115 votes, with 1,496 voting against it.
Glenrock voters appeared to overwhelmingly favor the projects. In one precinct representing east and west Glenrock, 82 percent supported extending the existing tax.
It wasn’t enough to overcome opposition elsewhere, including in Glenrock’s larger neighbor. In a precinct representing northeast, northwest and southwest Douglas, only 42 percent of voters favored the project.
“People in Glenrock, they get it, they understand the need and the benefit the rec center provides,” said Glenrock Recreation Center Director Donnie Stewart. “I don’t think the people of Douglas feel the same way ... we missed an opportunity for youth and seniors to have something awesome.”
The special election drew 57 percent of voters to the polls.
Ahead of the vote, Douglas Recreation Center Director Monty Gilbreath acknowledged some people were dissatisfied with the chosen location for the proposed center.
The $42 million facility would have been built in the Seven Trails development, a 1,300-acre residential, commercial and recreational project planned west of Douglas. The project is about one-third the size of existing Douglas.
Douglas Recreation Center is part of the high school. The public has limited access to the facility, which prompted the decision to build new.
Recreation advocates must regroup and create a new plan, Stewart said.
The vote would have provided $28 million to renovate the Glenrock facility and add an aquatic center.
The 40-year-old building still needs upgrades. High on the priority list are a new boiler and a new roof.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board, prioritize and work the (maintenance) needs,” Stewart said. “That’s all we can do ... keep the facility operational.”
The county can’t approach voters about the issue for another 11 months, Stewart said. If advocates do put the recreation centers to another vote, it will likely wait until the November 2016 general election.