The City of Elk River launched a new website Monday, September 17 to provide residents with information about the Local Option Sales Tax Referendum to support parks and recreation improvements which will appear on the November 6 ballot.
“We encourage local residents to explore www.ActiveElkRiver.com and get the information they need about the referendum and why it was proposed,” said Kaylin Clement, Senior Communications Coordinator. “We want every community member to understand the importance of this investment and the impact it will have on their quality of life.”
The referendum asks for a half-cent sales tax to pay for the bonds needed to finance $35 million in recreational and outdoor projects that will cover a wide range of enhancements and improvements, including a Multipurpose Recreation Facility and upgrades and additions at several city parks. After hearing input from residents and considering several options, the City Council decided the current plan will best serve the entire community in the most economical way, in part because the sales tax will be paid by all making purchases in the city, not just Elk River residents.
The plan features a major remodeling of the current city-owned ice arena into a Multipurpose Recreation Facility which includes replacing two failing ice rinks, expanding the lobby, dressing and meeting space, adding a 30,000 square-foot turf fieldhouse, and designated space for senior programming space to meet the needs of our growing 55+ community. Other projects will focus on upgrading Orono Park with a splashpad, skateboard park, pickleball courts and modern restrooms. Lion John Weicht Park and the Youth Athletic Complex will receive turf field enhancements, field lighting, concession/storage areas and modern restrooms. Further, trails will see greater connections and improvements, while matching funds to dredge Lake Orono are included which will improve water quality, expand wildlife habitat and reduce invasive species.
“Many of our recreational facilities are older properties that can’t easily be expanded or improved to meet today’s construction standards,” said Clement. “Residents have cited a growing need for updated facilities to accommodate a wider range of sports and activities, and this plan will get us there.”
The referendum will not be the final word on the sales tax proposal. If residents approve the referendum, the Minnesota Legislature must ratify the decision in an upcoming legislative session. Until that occurs, no bonds can be sold that are backed by the sales tax.
Residents can go to www.ActiveElkRiver.com to find out more information about the referendum, the city’s strategic plan and the tax impact on local property owners. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions page that answers questions from community members, and information on voting.
“Elk River is a special place to live in part because of the vibrancy of our outdoor and recreational offerings,” said Clement. “This investment will help us maintain the quality of life for years to come.”