Lincoln voters approve plan for new community building

Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader
Charles Bailey feeds his ballot into the tabulation machine after voting in the city of Lincoln's special election on May 9, as election worker T.A. Sampson looks on. The Lincoln voting center was in the Masonic Lodge off the square.
Lynn Kutter/Enterprise-Leader Charles Bailey feeds his ballot into the tabulation machine after voting in the city of Lincoln's special election on May 9, as election worker T.A. Sampson looks on. The Lincoln voting center was in the Masonic Lodge off the square.

LINCOLN -- Voters gave the go-ahead in Lincoln's special election May 9 to extend the city's 0.625% sales tax to pay off the library debt and issue bonds to construct a new community building on Lincoln Square, according to unofficial results from Washington County Election Commission.

The ballot had two questions, and both had to be approved for the city to move forward with its plan for the square.

The first question to refund the $450,000 outstanding balance on the 2012 library bond issue and extend the 0.625% local sales tax passed:

For^97 (73%)

Against^35 (27%)

The second question asking voters to allow the city to issue $3.8 million in bonds to finance the costs to demolish the present community building on Lincoln Square, finance the construction of a new community building in its place and extend the 0.625% local sales tax to pay off the bonds passed:

For^95 (72%)

Against^37 (28%)

Unofficial results show that about 10% of registered voters in the city of Lincoln cast ballots in the special election. According to the county clerk's office, the city has 1,300 registered voters.

Mayor Doug Hutchens last week said he was happy to see it pass by the percentage it did and called it a "solid win" for Lincoln.

"The community will benefit from it going forward," Hutchens said. "It will give a face-lift to the city for sure."

The next steps, Hutchens said, will be to finish the architectural design of the building and approve final details. He said he would like to have most of this finished before demolishing the current community building.

In addition, now that voters have approved the plan, Hutchens said the city can apply for grants to make improvements on the interior of the square itself, such as burying utility lines and landscaping.

The concept design plans show the new community building will have 4,431 square feet with a commercial kitchen, lobby, community room with seating for 176 people at round tables, storage and restrooms.

The exterior of the building will be brick to match the public library with porches on two sides, a front entrance facing Main Street, a drive-up area for the kitchen, and men's and women's bathrooms accessible from the outside.

The current community building has been deemed a public hazard and closed to the public since November because of major structural problems. After inspecting the building, a structural engineer reported the building was not safe to occupy.

Hutchens said the city plans to save an engraved stone monument on the current building and place it on the new building. The city also hopes to be able to incorporate some of the stone and accents from the old building into the new structure.