Voters sink pool, airport plans

•Sewers, Eaglecrest chairlift, parking garage win go-ahead •Sanford, Anderson, Doll will serve on the assembly •Sean O'brien, Margo Waring land two school board seats

Posted: Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Juneau voters on Tuesday snubbed a $28 million aquatic center and an airport terminal overhaul, and voted only for the sale-tax spending package led by sewer expansion and downtown parking.

About 3,600 people voted against using the optional 1 percent sales tax to expand Juneau International Airport, while 3,317 voted for it. A total of 3,730 people voted against building the aquatic center with 3,228 voting for the project.

The unofficial turnout was 29.6 percent of registered voters.

The successful package, including an extension of city sewers, purchase of a mid-mountain chairlift for Eaglecrest Ski Area, expansion of Don Statter Boat Harbor at Auke Bay and a parking garage downtown, won 4,227 votes. About 2,760 people voted against the package.

Proposition 1 asked voters to renew an optional 1 percent sales tax. Voters could pick from any or all of the three categories of projects for the use of the tax.

If the end results hold up after the final tally next week, the 1 percent sales tax would be in effect for two years and nine months. Had all of the projects won voter approval, that tax would be authorized for nine years.

Individual races

Assembly areawide

Bob Doll 2,762

Mara Early 2,072

David Summers 1,909

Assembly District 1

Joan Cahill 2,895

Merrill Sanford 3,566

Assembly District 2

Jonathan Anderson 3,332

Andrew Green 2,682

School Board

Mike Ford 2,704

Sean O´ Brien 3,550

Margo Waring 3,001

Propositions

1 percent sales tax

YES    NO

Airport terminal 3,317 3,599

Aquatic center 3,228 3,730

Eaglecrest, harbors,

parking sewer 4,227 2,761

Competitive bidding policy

Yes 3,402

No 3,120

Special Election

Yes 3,811

No 2,659

Glacier Valley Renovation

Yes 5,079

No 1,844

Individual precinct results

will run in Thursdays Empire.

District 1 Assembly incumbent Merrill Sanford said he was glad to see the sewer package pass.

"It shows a lot of people realize how important it is to get housing and land from the city's coffers out to private citizens," Sanford said. "To do that, we need to have that basic sewer system."

Deputy Mayor Marc Wheeler, an advocate of a Mendenhall Valley aquatic center, was disappointed.

"It's hard when you try to do something positive for the community and at the last minute, a negative campaign tears it all down," Wheeler said. He was referring to "First Things First," a group organized by Neil MacKinnon to block the building of the pool in the valley.

"The campaign spread a lot of misinformation about the pool," Wheeler said. "It's too bad because it's a good thing for the kids and Juneau. I am going to enjoy taking some time with my daughter at the overcrowded Augustus Brown Swimming Pool."

Airport Manager Alan Heese said there may be little chance of reversing the results after absentee and questioned ballots are counted, but he wouldn't give up hope. Heese said airport supporters could have raised more funding for the campaign. The project would cost $20 million.

"It is a good project, but the voters don't know what the needs are," Heese said.

Heese said the swimming pool and the airport are two big projects and voters may think they're tax burdens. He said the Airport Board would meet next Wednesday to discuss what to do with the project.

"If the vote turns around, the board would start looking for some design and see when we can take advantage of the sales tax money," Heese said. "If not, we would have to talk about how to do some deferred maintenance we hope could be included in the airport expansion projects, but we might have to deal with them as individual projects."

Darrell Harmon, a 25-year-old carpenter, said he voted for the Dimond Park aquatic center because it would have been more than a swimming pool.

"It's a recreational center," Harmon said.

Assembly member Randy Wanamaker said the Assembly needs to conduct a community survey to understand why citizens didn't support the two projects.

"The votes were actually close, but they failed to gather enough votes to be approved," Wanamaker said. "We would need the survey to find out if we should take these back in front of the voters through different funding formulas. Maybe people prefer we grow our economy more before we ask for another project."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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