Government & Politics

Shawnee voters overwhelmingly reject $38 million community center

Proposed Shawnee Community Center features pool with slides, splash pad, turf field, indoor track, playgrounds and more

Voters will decide whether to approve a property tax increase to fund the construction of the proposed Shawnee Community Center this May.
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Voters will decide whether to approve a property tax increase to fund the construction of the proposed Shawnee Community Center this May.

Shawnee voters overwhelmingly rejected a $38 million bond issue to construct a new community center.

Of the 19,951 mail-in ballots received by noon Tuesday, 72 percent voted against the proposal, according to unofficial results provided by the Johnson County Election Office.

Mayor Michelle Distler said listening to the voices of residents was crucial.

“The governing body wanted to ensure we gave every single registered voter in Shawnee a chance to weigh in on this important issue,” she said. “The majority of people who voted have let us know they do not support the proposed community center.”

One group in Shawnee favored the project, which would have supported a 68,000 square-foot facility with indoor swimming pools, an indoor turf field with batting cages, an outdoor walking loop that linked to Clear Creek Trail and other amenities.

Others opposed it, expressing concern about property tax hikes and pushing for public dollars to be used in other areas like infrastructure.

Last year, the city council approved feasibility studies and later presented design and financing plans during public meetings.

City staff will begin researching other potential uses for the property at 61st and Woodland, city of Shawnee spokeswoman Julie Breithaupt said.

The mail-in ballot results will be certified on May 28.

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Katie Moore covers crime and justice issues for The Star. She is a University of Kansas graduate and was previously a reporter in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas.

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