- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Minot residents have said no - by a 2-to-1 margin - to an $88 million aquatic and recreation center.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show that only 33 percent of the 5,650 voters supported a tax system amendment to pay for the 450,000-square foot facility. City residents would have paid the highest sales tax in the state, at 8 ½ percent, but their property taxes would have been lower. Williston recently used a similar funding mechanism to pay for a $76 million pool and recreation center.

The proposed Minot Aquatics and Recreation Center would have had a water park, a 50-meter competition pool and a warm water therapy pool. It also would have included a multisport turf area, a 400-meter track, an indoor playground, a child care center, a senior citizen event area and fitness equipment.

Outspoken opponent Jim Soltis told the Minot Daily News that residents feel they’re taxed enough and that the city has greater priorities as it continues to recover from the devastating 2011 Souris River flood.

“If we go back before the flood, I think it probably could have passed,” he said. “I would have voted for it. We just have too many problems facing this city right now to undertake another one.”

Tawnya Bernsdorf, spokeswoman for a community group that supports the measure, questioned whether voters were adequately educated about the proposal. Park board President Connie Feist also expressed frustration.

“The results are disappointing and disheartening for many people who put their energies and support into an issue that would greatly enhance the quality of life in Minot,” she said in a statement.

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