LEWISTON – Town voters gave an overwhelming thumbs-down to the town’s proposed new recreation center Monday.
The special referendum on borrowing $8 million to pay for the construction costs of the complex was rejected 1,312 to 673. There remain 73 absentee ballots and 10 affidavit ballots to be opened, but they won’t affect the outcome.
Supervisor Steven L. Reiter, who had included the rec center in his campaign platform when he was elected two years ago, said the outcome kills the project.
“I would say it would be very difficult to re-enact the project with that kind of vote.
For Reiter, who had decided earlier in the day to stay in the race for re-election despite an FBI investigation of his dealings with the Seneca Nation’s Hickory Stick Golf Course, not to mention open-heart surgery he underwent July 5, it might have been a personal blow, too.
Asked if his situation might have played a role in the result, Reiter said, “Of course, there’s a little reflection on me personally.”
The town sought to issue bond anticipation notes to pay the Lewiston-Porter Central School District $50,000 for the site and then erect the 139,000-square-foot Lewiston Civic Center.
Last month, the committee that controls Niagara River Greenway funding in Niagara County allocated the project $430,000 a year for 30 years.
That would have covered repayment of principal and interest on the borrowing for the project, which was to be built on about 10 acres of land right in front of the high school on Creek Road.
Lew-Port sports teams would have been allowed use the complex for practice sessions, relieving scheduling pressure in the school’s own sports facilities, but the main tenants were to be local youth and adult teams and leagues.
The largest part was to be a 90,000-square-foot indoor field for football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball or softball.
The town also had intended to move Lewiston’s senior citizens center to the new complex, but the seniors balked at leaving their current center on Lower River Road.
The new building also could have been used as an emergency preparedness center in case of bad weather or other disasters.
It also could have been rented out for private events, ranging from boat shows to weddings.
Critics of the project complained about the cost and the location, which is near the Niagara River rather than centrally located as Town Hall is.
The town had discussions with Sports Facilities Advisory of Clearwater, Fla., about managing the complex, Reiter said last month.