City of Yukon residents voted down the $18 million general obligation (GO) bond by a landslide during the March 7 special election.
The GO bond was for the purpose of constructing a new sports park at the southwest corner of Frisco Road and Highway 66.
The $18 million bond would have only been for Phase I of the sports park which included nine outdoor soccer fields, spectator seating, scoreboards, concession, restroom facilities, maintenance facilities, landscaping, sidewalks and parking lots. Also included in the GO bond would’ve been widening Frisco Road to four lanes, and using $3 million to pay off the land.
The bond was voted against by 73.24 percent of the voters, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website. A total of 3,341 votes were cast in the election.
“I think it sent us a message that we failed to communicate well with a lot of people in the community and we need to take the time to meet with these people and get their views on the city and what direction they think we need to go,” City Manager Jim Crosby said. “Also explain some of the problems that they may not be aware of. Just a lot better communication than what we had.”
Many voters said they voted no because they didn’t want only City of Yukon property owners to pay for the sports complex.
“I don’t think there’s one clear reason [residents voted no], but I think the main reason is the taxes. They sent a message that they don’t want any more taxes,” Crosby said. “Their message was loud and clear on the tax issue.”
Other voters have expressed concerns about the sports complex being voted down.
“We had a huge turnout,” Crosby said. “It was probably three times larger than what was expected if you look at past elections. I think we had a great turnout and it’s wonderful to see the people get out and vote. Even though you lose, you’re just happy people can get out and voice their opinion.”
Crosby said the next step is to reach out to residents who were “very expressive and adamant about their opinions.”
“I’d like to have the opportunity to sit and talk with them and get their views, and talk about what they’d like for the future of the city,” Crosby said. “I think the majority of people are very interested that the quality of life remains strong here in Yukon.
“Some of the concerns people expressed, well of those people said ‘no growth,’ but you can’t stop the growth out here and the growth that’s going in around us. The thing we need is to have a voice in that quality of growth to ensure it’s a type of growth we would prefer. Not just in Yukon, but in Oklahoma City that is surrounding us on three sides.”
Crosby said since the bond was voted down, they will be paying off the land like they do with anything else, budgeting and making quarterly payments. The city’s finances are still in the green and they’re able to budget and make those payments. He confirmed the land will not go back to Oklahoma City, and they will begin looking into the agreement for the land and what is possible for it to be used for in the future.
“To say we’ve done that overnight, no we have not, but we are going to look at those options real closely,” Crosby said.
As to whether the sports complex would be proposed again with a new plan for funding, Crosby said he could not say.
“When I came here, the members of the council were concerned about that and the need of the sports complex and very interested in seeing this go forward with some type of proposal. Several of them thought this was the time to do it, and evidentially that’s not true,” Crosby said. “I think there’s still a bad taste in some of the citizens’ mouths over everything occurred in the past year so this is something we’ll just have to work to overcome then move forward.
“We have a lot of other needs and a lot of things that are going on, so we’ve got to ensure that whatever happens in the future retains a real high standard here in the community.”
Crosby noted that Yukon is a great place to live, with a great school system, low crime rate, good roads, great access to everywhere in the metropolitan area and more.
“I think most people want to make sure we keep that high standard of living at this level,” Crosby said.
Growth is inevitable, Crosby said, so all he wants is to ensure the City of Yukon has a voice in its own future.
“Some people say ‘no new taxes’ and legislatures say they won’t pass anything that’ll raise taxes, but folks, you have to quit digging and come out of it some way. I think a lot is going on nationally and locally in our state with taxes and people are concerned. You just can’t keep cutting forever,” Crosby said. “We did not do a good job at getting the message out to these people early on and we should have. Not that that would’ve made a difference in the election, but try to at least explain where we are and what’s going on in the area, the impact of what Oklahoma City is coming in and really showing the big picture. We’re going to take some time to get that message out. People don’t understand the growth potential with Oklahoma City coming in. Even though it’s not today, in three or five years it’s here. It’s going to change.
“Change is the only constant in life so we have to adjust to it and be prepared. I think it was Darwin that said it’s not the fastest, the strongest or the smartest that survive, it’s the one that’s most adaptable to change because it’s the only constant we’ve got.”