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Published: Thursday, 8/5/2004

Recreation levies won't be on ballot in the fall

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Anthony Wayne area voters who turned down two new tax requests for a proposed athletic complex and water park near Whitehouse by a 4-1 ratio will not see a similar request on the November ballot, two proponents said.

But another said the proposed Anthony Wayne Area Joint Recreation District park idea is not dead, even though the requested bond issue and operating levy failed decisively in all 30 precincts Tuesday on the second attempt at the polls.

In one Monclova Township precinct, the bond issue got one "yes" vote and 54 "no" votes. In a Providence Township precinct, the operating levy got four "yes" votes and 79 "no" votes.

"It is one of the most resounding defeats that I've seen," said Larry Loutzenhiser, a 17-year employee of the Lucas County Board of Elections who is the election services manager. "The voters just literally said 'No.' And they said it with a microphone on."

The final, unofficial vote was 4,950 "no" and 1,262 "yes" on the 0.55-mill, 23-year bond issue that would have raised $5.55 million over 23 years to build the proposed AWARD Family Park. The new 0.45-mill, 10-year operating levy was denied by a vote of 4,915 to 1,302.

In November, 2002, similar is-

sues failed by about 55 percent.

Since then, Anthony Wayne Local School District passed a new tax levy and property reappraisals have increased taxable values for many voters, said Todd Frendt, spokesman for the recreation district board. He also said seniors and empty-nesters did not see a need for the park.

"Obviously it's a disappointing loss," he said.

He held out hope, however, in the 38 percent turnout of the recreation district's 16,382 registered voters. Even though 80 percent of the voters who went to the polls marked "no," they make up only 30 percent of registered voters.

The recreation district covers the same area as Anthony Wayne school district, but it is unrelated to the schools.

The 11-member recreation district board is to discuss the future of its proposed park in a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18 in the Whitehouse village administration building.

The board won't put requests on the November ballot, said board vice chairman Par Ricketts and finance chairman Bob Walters. But it may try to build the park in stages using private funds and government grants or ask voters for money later, said Mr. Walters, who also mentioned disbanding.

"We do have options," he said.

Although the board has less than $5,000 in its accounts now, it will be able to pay for Tuesday's special election, Mr. Walters said. That bill, which is estimated to range from $14,000 to $17,000, will not be figured until winter by the boards of election. The district has voters in Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties.

Mr. Walters said the board has commitments from private donors to cover costs and will have fund-raisers, including the 5-K run-walk it has held for five years in July. The board does not receive any tax money.

Tuesday's issues would have cost the owner of a $100,000, owner-occupied home almost $31 a year - about $17 a year for the bond issue and almost $14 a year for the operating levy.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6102.



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