Cedar City Council votes on aquatic center expansion, leaves door open for ballot question

Cedar City Council members during discussion, Cedar City, Utah, May 13, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — With limited comment from council members and none from the public on Wednesday night, the Cedar City Council repealed the resolution that authorized staff to pursue funding for an expansion of the city’s aquatic center.

As previously reported in Cedar City News, a resolution passed last November in a split vote of 3-2 authorized staff to incur up to $7 million in debt for new basketball courts and other recreational amenities to be added on to the aquatic center.

However, after building and material costs were projected to total more than $9 million, the council hit the brakes on the project and passed a repeal of the original resolution Wednesday night.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen what has happened, and everybody in the industry has seen what happened, with construction costs,” council member Scott Phillips said.

Philips went on to say that he originally voted against the resolution for expansion due to an issue of timing. He said he didn’t think the timing was right with what was happening with the COVID-19 pandemic, and he wanted to ensure the city would make it through the winter season.

The site of a proposed multipurpose recreation center at the Cedar City Aquatic Center, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 4, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News

“We did that, and we did extremely well,” Phillips said. “But now we’ve done so well, it’s come to punish us on the backside with construction costs. I feel badly about this, but I think we have no choice but to repeal the resolution.”

A group of concerned Cedar City residents had launched a referendum that would have put the issue before voters in November. A number of those residents spoke during the work session discussing the repeal on May 5.

While they said they were glad the repeal would halt the project, many of them requested that a question still be put on the ballot that would ask voters if they want the expansion of the aquatic center to be made at all.

Before voting on the repeal, council member Tyler Melling addressed that issue.

“This is independent of any question that might be on the ballot,” Melling said. “Any discussion about anything else we may want to ask the community, or to receive input, this is not closing that discussion.”

Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards also left the door open for a possible ballot question.

“The council can come up with a different ballot question if you would like,” she said. “It would just have to be approved by the City Council.”

Phillips made the motion to repeal the resolution, seconded by council member Ronald Adams. The motion passed 4-0, with council member Craig Isom not present.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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