Polls open in Fayetteville for special bond election

A sign directs voters to Sang Avenue Baptist Church Tuesday morning in Fayetteville.

Staff photo

Where to vote: Check www.voterview.ar-nova.org to see your polling place.

A special bond election today will determine whether taxpayer money is used to help fund Walton Arts Center renovations and a planned regional park in southwest Fayetteville.

Polls are scheduled to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today (Nov. 12).

Voters are being asked for permission to extend bonds originally used to build the Fayetteville Town Center. The debt, which is paid for using money collected from the city’s 2 percent tax on hotel stays and food purchases at restaurants, is down to about $1.5 million.

With that debt nearly paid off, officials have come up with a couple of options for what to do with the tax money for the next 25 years.

Voters will decide three ballot questions:
1. Should $1.5 million in bonds be issued to repay the remaining Town Center debt?
2. Should $6.9 million in bonds be issued to help fund Walton Arts Center expansions?
3. Should $3.5 million in bonds be issued to help build a regional park?

Regardless of the outcome of the election, the 2 percent HMR tax will not change. Instead, the money would be put to some other undetermined use.

Design rendering of a new entryway.

WAC/Boora Architects

Question 1

The first question is essentially asking voters for permission refinance the remaining $1.5 million in Town Center debt to clear the way for questions 2 and 3. If Question 1 fails, the city won’t be able to issue bonds for the full ballot amounts of questions 2 and 3.

Question 2

The Walton Arts Center money would go toward a construction project at the center’s Dickson Street campus, which calls for a new facade and entryway at the corner of West Avenue, a larger lobby, an expanded Starr Theatre, additional backstage space, and a re-configured Rosen Memorial Rose Garden.

The arts center would still need about $13 million in donations and other funds to complete the project. A&P Commissioners gave $600,000 to the center in May to help fund the design of the expansion.

» Read more about the expansion plan

Question 3

Conceptual master plan for the city’s regional park.

City of Fayetteville

The park money would help begin construction of the first phase of a 200-acre regional park where sports fields, trails, pavilions, a splash park and a concert amphitheater are planned.

Phase one includes eight soccer fields, restrooms, concessions and basic park infrastructure like streets, sidewalks, parking and utilities. Soccer fields are first on the list because the city’s 1,500 youth soccer participants will need a place to play once the University of Arkansas reclaims its Lewis Park complex in 2018.

The park’s second phase calls for eight youth baseball fields, trails, a great lawn, a large pavilion and a playground.

Softball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a disc golf course, a community amphitheater and some type of water feature – like a splash pad – could follow.

» Read more about the regional park plan