By Debra A. Parker
The Moore American
MOORE — With two funding measures approved Nov. 6, officials for the city of Moore are turning their attention to moving ahead with a series of park upgrades and the construction of a new aquatic center.
One initiative on last Tuesday’s ballot calls for the issuance of $25.1 million in general obligation bonds to construct a multifaceted aquatic center and communty area. The second ballot measure calls for a temporary quarter-cent sales tax increase to pay for upgrades to the city’s parks.
Last week, 17,759 votes were cast in the bond election, according to Cleveland County Election Board results. By a margin of 64.2 percent to 35.8 percent, Moore voters approved $25.1 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a major destination water theme park. The final vote was 11,398 in favor of issuing the bonds, and 6,361 against the initiative.
Also last week, at 17,683, slightly fewer votes were cast in the sales tax vote, according to the county election board. The sales tax increase passed by a margin of 10,281 votes, or 58.1 percent, to 7,402 votes, or 41.9 percent.
“The numbers were very supportive,” City Manager Stephen Eddy said after the balloting on Nov. 6. “The bond vote had a wider margin of victory than the sales tax issue.
“That was a little surprising to us,” he said. “Although the margin of victory was suprising, they both were approved by comfortable margins.”
“We are grateful to the voters and citizens for approving the measures and the confidence they have in the city,” Eddy said. “We’re very excited.”
Now the work will begin to move the projects forward, the city manager said Tuesday morning.
“There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that will be going on for the coming weeks and months,” Eddy said.
Eddy said among the details to be resolved before ground can be broken on the aquatic center are:
1. Issuance of the bonds to secure the necessary funding.
2. Purchase of the land.
3. Secure an architect.
“We have land under option at Fourth and Broadway,” Eddy said. “There are about 50 to 60 acres there at Fourth Street, and that’s where the park will be.”
He said the city hopes to have the aquatic center open by Spring 2014.
“So, we will need to break ground next summer or fall,” he said.
Eddy said the project is more than just a pool. This park would be home to a new aquatic facility, a new community/recreation center, a farmer’s market/multi-purpose building, an outdoor amphitheater/stage, and a 2-mile multipurpose trail in central Moore.
“For what we are going to be spending on it, it had better be more than just a nice little pool,” Eddy said.
The impact on property tax for a Moore home with an assessed value of $100,000, would be about $4 per month.
Eddy has termed this project a game changer for Moore, particularly in the area of quality of life.
The second proposition approved by voters last week was a quarter-cent, temporary sales tax that would run from April 1, 2013, to March 30, 2017. That temporary sales tax would be designated for improvements to existing parks.
“On the sales tax side, it won’t go into effect until April,” Eddy said Tuesday. “City council is considering a short-term note in advance of the sales tax increase so that we can move ahead with some work on the other parks.
“That work is what people will see first,” Eddy said. “Council will talk about that funding at the meeting next week.
“The sales tax (funded) work is all over town and hopefully we will see that activity soon,” Eddy said.
The two initiatives were the result of months of planning.
“Earlier this year, the council decided we wanted to take a look at the overall parks system so we did the parks master plan,” Eddy said in a previous interview.
That master plan made recommendations including upgrading Moore’s current parks, but it didn’t stop there.
“It also made a recommendation about this big new park,” Eddy said. “Now is the time to put this forward. We had quite a lot of public input as to what people want to see in their existing parks.”
With the pool closed, a new, state-of-the-art aquatic center is badly needed. So are the other amenities included in the proposed general obligation bond.
“The farmers market building was high on the list of things people said they want to see in Moore,” Eddy said. “The interest rates now are very low, so we think we would get some good interest rates. The bonds will be issued over time.”
The projects will make major upgrades and improvements to existing parks, build a wall of honor to recognize veterans, create gathering spots for families to enjoy time together, offer new health and wellness opportunities for Moore residents and create a positive economic impact from special events and new destination facilities, according to the Master Parks plan and city staff notes.
American staff writer Joy Hampton contributed to this report.