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Local

Batavia voters reject recreation center proposal

Park district’s plan defeated with 62% voting no

This artist's drawing shows the design for the proposed Batavia Multiplex Activity Center. On March 17, voters rejected the $27.1 million bond referendum required to build it .
This artist's drawing shows the design for the proposed Batavia Multiplex Activity Center. On March 17, voters rejected the $27.1 million bond referendum required to build it .

BATAVIA – Voters in the Batavia Park District soundly rejected a $27.1 million bond referendum to construct a multiplex activity center.

With all 24 precincts counted Tuesday, unofficial totals showed 5,012 votes against the proposal to 2,944 in favor of the plan.

"We thought that we brought a solution that was in line with community expectations,” park district Executive Director Allison Niemela said. “But the community has spoken and we have to learn from that.”

More than 62% of those casting ballots voted no. Turnout was strong, with more than 38% of eligible park district voters taking part.

“We’re disappointed, but we don’t want to lose sight of the incredible amount of work we did to finding a solution to increasing indoor recreational space in Batavia,” Niemela said.

The defeat is the third time in 12 years that voters in the park district have turned thumbs down to a plan for an indoor recreational facility.

A proposal for a $36 million recreation and aquatics center at Quarry Beach was defeated in 2008.

Two years later, voters turned down a $20 million plan for construction of a 62,000-square-foot recreation center at Houston Street and Island Avenue in the heart of the downtown, as part of a redevelopment project.

This time, the park district’s plan was for a 65,100-square-foot building housing an eight-lane swimming pool, a large turf playing field, a hard floor playing court, a running track, a wellness center and multi-purpose rooms.

The location was an 8.47-acre piece of land near the southern city boundary just east of Route 25 and immediately north of the Illinois Prairie Path bicycle trail.

The park district had conducted surveys and community meetings which the staff said were showing that residents want an indoor recreation facility in Batavia.

However, during informational forums conducted immediately ahead of the election, residents who attended were critical of the proposed facility’s business plan and location. Many simply said local property taxes are already too high.

Had the referendum been approved, the owner of a home valued at $300,000 would have been facing an additional $178 per year in property taxes over the 20 years that the bonds were to be paid off.

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