In a deja vu of the failed special election in 2015, Tuesday’s rec center vote ended with voters saying no to the $87.5 million project by 1,961 to 1,711 – a 250 vote difference compared to a 115 vote difference four years ago.
As in 2015, Glenrock voters carried the banner in favor of the $87.5 million proposal, voting 72% for it (598 votes) and 28% against (233 votes) in those precincts. Douglas area voters, on the other hand, once again rejected the ballot initiative 61% to 39% (1,728 votes to 1,113 votes), which overwhelmed the wishes of Glenrock voters.
The rejection of the proposal in Douglas seemed to focus on cost, what some say as an over-built facility, and the idea that the center would charge a use fee for ongoing operations costs while also collecting a sales tax to pay for construction, based on comments and responses posted on social media.
“Like in every election, voters of Converse County have spoken. Given our incredible economic climate today, we were hopeful that this second opportunity would pass. I would like to thank all the volunteers and my staff that worked so hard on this campaign, as well as those since 2013 when we first started this project,” Douglas Rec Center Director and Douglas City Councilman Monty Gilbreath said in response to the loss. Gilbreath was one of the main supporters in both elections.
In 2015, a similar proposal put before voters failed by 115 votes, with Glenrock carrying the bulk of the yes votes at 80-20% but Douglas voters rejected the plan that included a new rec center on the west side of I-25.
This time around, though, Glenrock voters carried the torch by a slimmer margin, but like last time, they didn’t have enough power to overcome the opposition in Douglas.
Overall, 3,673 people cast ballots for the election, with an extremely strong absentee vote touching around 1,300 votes before Tuesday. The total represented 65.8% of registered voters, a strong turnout for a special election.
Glenrock residents had hoped the proposal would pass muster with voters and they would have gotten a renovated rec center with a new outdoor aquatics park and pool and updates to the South Rec Area.
The new Douglas Rec Center would have included three gyms, pool/water slide/lazy river, a computerized sports simulator, and a walking/jogging track.