Big Bond Issues Facing Fremont Voters on May 15th

FREMONT – On May 15, Fremont voters will have 3 bond issues on the ballot.  Each one carries a price tag of $2 million. Among the issues: renovation of the City Auditorium, adding a “lazy river” feature to the Splash Station waterpark, and renovation to the Keene Memorial Library.

In 2016, the City Auditorium held 214 events between the gym, the kitchen and the community room. That number went up in 2017 to 242 events, when several sports teams utilized the facility as an indoor practice space due to the long, wet winter. The City Auditorium is still a high use facility, and it needs upgrades. “If you’ve been to the auditorium, you know that the main bathrooms are in the basement,” said Parks & Recreation Director, Kim Koski. “which is, number one, not ADA accessible.”

The plans for renovation include creating a banquet hall space in the auditorium, work on the acoustics, refurbish the floors, add main floor bathrooms, update the existing community room, and add an additional meeting room. Updates to the kitchen to create a more practical working space are also in the plans.

Fremont’s Splash Station is the focus of the second bond issue. Opened in July of 2007, the city’s most popular pool has just recently passed its 10th anniversary. The most frequent guest comment and question is: When are you going to add a lazy river?

“We’ll have another slide off the existing tower, which will be a tube slide, where you can drop into the lazy river. Or, if you don’t want to climb the 60 stairs, we’ll have access on the deck.” Burbach Aquatics Inc presented the city with three different conceptual designs, and the city chose the design with a middle-of-the-road cost: $2.6 million. The bond itself, is only for 2 million, with the rest to come from city reserves.

The third bond issue, also for $2 million, is for renovation and expansion of Fremont’s Keene Memorial Library.  “Basically, the Library is out of room,” according to Library Director, Tina Walker. “We’re not ADA compliant, either. So we’re trying to figure out how to resolve those two issues.” The library is looking at a two-story expansion to the east side of their existing facility that would include a community meeting space for up to 200 people. A separate children’s area is also planned, in addition to a new elevator and stairs for ADA compliance. “The two million would be our jump-start money, and the rest of it would be private funding and seeking grants to fully fund the project.”

Whether one, two or three of the bond issues pass voter approval, there will be costs. “We have to tell voters that if you vote for it, it’s $0.71 per bond issue, so a total of $2.13 for all three, per month or slightly over $20 per year. So, it’s affordable,” said Fremont’s City Administrator, Brian Newton. “If they don’t pass, we won’t do the projects. The library may move forward on their own, it would just have to be scaled back to a smaller project.” Each bond is for $2 million, but each project has costs to exceed that. The excess costs would be covered by the city reserves. “We’ve been building those reserves over the years, and we decided it’s time to quit kicking the can down the road. It’s only going to cost more to do all these improvements later – let’s get them done.”