Voters gave the go-ahead Thursday, Dec.14, for town of Malta officials to enlarge the David R. Meager Community Center at a cost of $6 million.
The affirmative vote came after months of debate, delays and questions about the board's ability as elected officials to allocate funds already set aside for this project.
The expansion will include a multi-purpose gymnasium for sports, fitness, classes, dances, crafts fairs and emergency sheltering, and a gym designed to be divided up for several activities at once. The project will add a branch of the Round Lake Library and a multi-use gymnasium at a cost of $6.1 million, of which $2.7 million would be paid from current savings and $3.4 million would be borrowed.
Despite a winter storm that blanketed the town with several inches of snow throughout Thursday afternoon and into the evening, 587 residents trudged out to vote between noon and 8 p.m. at Malta Town Hall. Vote tallies showed 56 percent approved the expansion, representing 329 votes for the project and 258 opposing it.
The weather was poor, and there could have been a larger turnout, but in the end, the result was the same, that a majority of people support this project, said Supervisor Paul Sausville. "In fact, there was a better turnout for this than there was for the firemen's vote Tuesday."
In a special vote at the Malta Town Hall held Tuesday, Dec. 12, just fewer than 350 Malta residents showed up to vote on a measure to add incentives for volunteer firefighters and ambulance corps crews in the town and the Village of Round Lake. That proposal also passed, with 281 Malta voters approving it, and 68 voters turning it down.
"It's been a good week for the town of Malta," said Sausville.
Town residents and business owners crowded board meetings in recent months to question whether taxpayers would in any way foot the bill for the project. Board members made it clear the cost of construction, operation and loan repayment would be funded from the town's current annual operating budget, without any increase in taxes.