Center expansion put to vote

Malta residents will have their say at the polls on Thursday, Dec. 13, on whether the town should move ahead spending $6.1 million to expand the Malta Community Center.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m., a public presentation will be held at the community center to introduce the preferred design based on public input. Members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions about the project before the Dec. 13 vote to be held at the Malta Town Hall and the Round Lake Village Hall from noon to 8 p.m.

The special referendum is on the calendar after prolonged discussion at town board meetings on how to respond to a petition signed by almost 450 residents in mid-October challenging the board's vote to proceed with the project.

The petitions were circulated after the board voted to expend funds collected in a capital account derived from fees attached to new developments in town of $1,000 per unit. Board members said the account will completely cover the costs of building and maintaining the upgrades, which would include a gymnasium and more space for civic and social meetings and enrichment classes.

A petition was circulated by residents calling for a public referendum on spending the funds on the expansion project. On Monday, Oct. 15, during a special meeting, the town board wrestled with honoring the petition and putting the project to vote, or moving ahead to avoid costly construction delays. The town could stand to pay as much as 10 percent more with every annual delay in the construction work, due to rising materials costs and missing the ideal times for outdoor work. That could mean putting off the project until more funds can be added to the capital account from fees to new developers.

Several board members expressed their surprise over the public's request for more information.

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