Voters Reject Aquatic Center, May Get Another Vote in November - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Voters Reject Aquatic Center, May Get Another Vote in November

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Voters rejected a regional aquatic center in Tuesday's primary.

Many Tri-Citians told the regional public facilities district they want an aquatic center here.

But on Tuesday, voters rejected the one-tenth of a cent sales tax increase to fund the center.

55% percent of voters said no, while 45% voted yes.

Franklin County voters approved of the center more than Benton County voters.

"I haven't quite figured it out myself yet, but maybe the Tri-Cities isn't quite ready to be the Tri-Cities yet. We talk about being the Tri-Cities, but when we have a vote and it's not exactly like we turn out, maybe we need to do a bit more thinking about it and get used to the idea," said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, Tri-Cities Regional PFD board member.

"I felt that geography probably had a bit to do with it. People in Benton County aren't used to paying money for something that might be over on the other side of the river," said Marilyn Andersen, aquatic center supporter.

Many community members said they think the aquatic center is a good idea, but recognize there are many road blocks.

Low voter turnout also played a role. Only about 25% of voters cast a vote in Benton and Franklin Counties.

The Regional PFD could decide to put the proposal back on the ballot in November.

"There should be one because people are going out of town to the other aquatic centers in Moses Lake and Hermiston. The money goes to them, not us," said Martin Sabala, who wants a regional aquatic center.

"Maybe if more people would get out to vote and know that it's in jeopardy of not passing, maybe more people would vote for it,"said Eleanor Woods, who supports another votes.

"The community has to be very much behind any of these kinds of projects and the community is not quite there yet and we'll keep working on it," Watkins said.

Mayor Watkins says, at the next Regional PFD meeting on August 14th, they will discuss why there was a difference in approval between the counties and how they might move forward.

A Kennewick PFD proposal to fund a convention center expansion is already on the November ballot and Watkins says they will take that into account.