By Nick Woodruff
STILLWATER, Okla. —
First of a three-part series
In a little more than two weeks, Stillwater residents will have a big decision to make at the voting booth.
On the Nov. 12 ballot, there will be three propositions addressing the quality of life for Stillwater residents, but those improvements will come at a price.
Proposition 1, if passed, would raise Stillwater residents’ property taxes approximately $54 for every $100,000 of taxable property for 20 years. The 20-year general obligation bond will be worth $20 million.
The bond would be used to finance the construction of baseball, softball and soccer complexes, as well as an outdoor amphitheater at Boomer Lake Park.
The sports complexes would cost approximately $15 million. The facility would be located in the vicinity of Sangre Road and Richmond Road, according to information on the city of Stillwater’s website. It would also be capable of hosting state and regional competitions.
The other $5 million of the proposition would go to improvements of Boomer Lake Park. There would be numerous projects at the southwest corner of the park, including a multipurpose, outdoor amphitheater, which would seat approximately 2,500 people, a parking area and a lake front boardwalk area with shops and water recreation venues.
The city of Enid recently created a similar quality of life project. Steve Kime, director of public relations for the city of Enid, said the Enid Event Center, which opened in July, has been great for the city.
Although the Enid High School basketball team will play in the $18 million building, Kime said the event center is used for many things.
“If you ask people just to pay for a basketball court, you may not get everyone on board,” Kime said. “But if you have a place where you can hold an Easter church service or Sesame Street Live, it becomes a community event center.”
Kime said the event center was part of a bigger project to revitalize the downtown area in Enid. Even though the event center is the central reason, the city’s sales tax revenue has increased the last two quarters, Kime said.
One of the major differences between this project and Stillwater’s idea is that Enid had half of the project already funded. Kime said the city of Enid had approximately $18 million saved for the $34 million revitalization project of downtown Enid.
Kime said the event center is creating excitement in Enid.
“It’s been a little bit of a magnet,” Kime said. “It’s drawn other businesses. I’m not saying build it and they will come, but there is definitely enthusiasm in the air.”
Another area city that funded a similar project approximately four years ago is Ponca City. The city of Ponca City funded a YMCA that has more than 77,000-square feet of space.
It was funded through a sales tax. The city built the complex but is not responsible for the upkeep, said Shane Harland, executive director at the Ponca City YMCA.
The project was a little more than $21 million. The YMCA put in $2.5 million for its aquatic area.
Harland said it has been good for the city.
“We have four softball fields and four youth baseball diamonds,” Harland said. “It definitely brought excitement to our town and passed at 72 percent.”
Even though the plans passed in Enid and Ponca City, Stillwater’s Proposition 1 is one of three propositions on the ballot Nov. 12.
The motto for the city has been to improve the quality of life, and that is what citizens will have to decide at the ballot box.