Monday, September 22, 2014

Preparations begin to ready Community Center referendums for May vote

Posted on Jan. 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The clock is ticking to get the Goshen Community Center referendums ready for the special election ballot in May.

The Goshen city council approved their referendum on the $35,575,000 project last week after council freshman Brett Weddell cast the deciding affirmative vote to allow a question for the city on the ballot.

But Tuesday’s vote was only the beginning of a long process, which must be completed over the next six weeks, according to Bruce Stahly, director of the Community Center project.

Goshen Community Schools will vote on allowing their own referendum at a hearing Jan. 28.

If the school also approves the referendum, both the schools and the city will need to collect 125 signatures that, in effect, support the referendums.

Once the signatures have been collected, they will be sent to the Elkhart County Election Board, who will contact the Department of Local Government Finance. The election board and DLGF will communicate on exactly how the questions will be worded on ballot, with the DLGF making the final call on how the questions appear.

All these steps must be finalized at least 60 days before the scheduled voting day, which in this case would be May 7, 2013.

On that day, residents of the city and school district will be able to vote at one of three “voting centers” — a voting strategy that the county election board will be testing.

Voting centers would most likely be set up at the Salvation Army, 1013 North Main St.; Maple City Chapel, 2015 Lincolnway East; and Trinity Lutheran Church, 202 South Greene Road.

Voters would be able to cast their ballot at whichever center was most convenient to them.

The cost to hold the special election will most likely be $58,000, according to updated estimates, according to Stahly.

While making a presentation at the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club Jan. 8, Stahly said if the cost of the election was the only reason people would not want a vote, Goshen Community Center Inc. would have made funds available to cover the cost.

The cost of the election was not questioned at the council meeting Tuesday, however, so Stahly said the $58,000 would be split between the city and the schools.

While these steps continue to form the referendums themselves, Goshen Community Center Inc. will be busy looking at possibilities that could lower the cost of the project.

Stahly said the group will look at the location of the center, which is planned to be the site of the city’s old street department building along the Mill Race, and will check to see if there is a cheaper option.

He said the group will also investigate doing additional fundraising and scaling back the project. Scaling back the project could prove to be tricky, Stahly explained, because the center would probably need most, if not all, the amenities proposed to remain self-sustaining.

More information on the proposed Goshen Community Center, including construction costs, tax impact and business plan, can be found at goshencommunitycenter.com.