COOLIDGE — Two propositions that will enable the city of Coolidge and the Coolidge Unified School District to sell bonds for capital funding passed in the 2019 election by a narrow vote.
Propositions 434 and 435 were approved by voters within Coolidge districts. Proposition 434 asked voters to consider the sale of $5 million in bonds to fund the construction of an aquatic center that would replace the current city pool and road improvements along Northern Avenue.
“The reason the council did it the way they did it is so that the community could decide,” Mayor Jon Thompson said of the proposition’s success. “No matter which way you voted, the community decided that this was the way to go and so this is what we’re going to follow through with.”
Proposition 435 will enable CUSD to sell up to $21 million in bonds to fund facility improvements throughout the district, with the first initial sale of $5 million likely taking place in 2020.
The CUSD bond issue passed with the majority of “yes” votes totaling 895. “No” votes on the proposition totaled to 841.
“I’m very grateful, thankful and appreciative that the voters of our district have supported this bond,” said CUSD Superintendent Charie Wallace. “We promise, we will be very transparent in our spending and we will be good stewards of their money.”
For CUSD, the funding from bond sales will go to capital improvements such as replacing the aging curtains at the Coolidge Performing Arts Center and covering the costs for nearly $4 million in HVAC replacements the district anticipates in the coming years.
“Because of this support we won’t have to cut staff,” Wallace said. “And we’ll be able to continue with competitive salaries and benefits.”
Coolidge city officials also expressed that they were pleased to hear that Proposition 434 had passed, with 732 “yes” votes in favor of the bond and 688 against.
Bond monies will go toward developing a new aquatic center on Northern Avenue where the current city pool stands.
The city currently operates a public pool that is located on the Coolidge High School campus. The facility was constructed in 1986 and is the subject of an Intergovernmental Agreement between the city of Coolidge and CUSD.
The $5 million bond will enable the city to expand the overall size of the facility to include additional recreational components like a splash pad and enlarge the size of the competition pool from 6 lanes to 8.
“I think it says a lot about a community when they try and improve the amenities for their citizens and youth,” Thompson said. “A lot of our citizens go to Florence (Aquatic Center), and maybe they still will, but I think some of them will stay here.”
The chlorine system will also be updated as a result of constructing a new facility, Parks & Recreation Director Ricky LaPaglia said, which will ensure greater safety for neighboring residents.
“The easiest way to fix your pool if it starts to turn the wrong color is to have a gas chlorine system,” LaPaglia said. “But it’s not the safest way to do it.
“Thirty-three years and we never had an incident, but it’s not (the case) that if you have one incident that (you can say) ‘Oh that’s not bad, you only had one incident,’” he continued. “That could be a catastrophic thing, so one incident is a failure. That’s not something I would ever want to see.”
LaPaglia also anticipates that the amount of people using the aquatic center will likely increase once construction on the project is complete.
“We get close to 200 people a day at our current pool (during the summer) and I imagine it’s going to go up maybe double that between swim lessons, open swim and everything else we do down there,” he said.
The $5 million bond also allocates money toward improvements to Northern Avenue between Arizona Boulevard and 9th Street. City officials previously confirmed that they will be working with San Carlos Irrigation District to address infrastructure issues with irrigation piping below the street.
“The roadway is really the door way to one of our major educational facilities,” City Manager Rick Miller said. “And to have people drive down that road is not a very good statement of who we are. We’re better, and I think improving that roadway will make a big difference for the people that live on the street and the people that are visiting the schools.”
But with major development projects like Nikola Motor Company coming into the city and more residential permits being issued throughout Coolidge, Miller noted that citizens will likely see the burden of increased property tax bills shared with incoming residents and businesses.
“All of those projects that come in here are going to help pay for this pool,” he said. “It’s not just the people here today, it’s the people that are coming. They’re all going to be pitching in to help with this, which is going to lessen the burden on the residents here today.”
Prop. 434: City of Coolidge bond
Prop. 435: Coolidge Unified School District bond