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Fayetteville Voters Approve $6.9 Million WAC Expansion

Fayetteville voters approved $6.9 million in bond money to help fund the Walton Arts Center’s planned $20 million expansion in a special election Tuesday night....

Fayetteville voters approved $6.9 million in bond money to help fund the Walton Arts Center’s planned $20 million expansion in a special election Tuesday night.

Unofficial final numbers showed the measure passing 3,638 votes (85 percent) to 666 (15 percent).

"It's a wonderful win not only for the committee but for all Fayetteville," Jeff Koenig, chairman of the Three Votes for Fayetteville Committee. "We had the opportunity as citizens to decide how our HMR tax will be spent."

Early and absentee results were also strong for the measure, with 688 people voting for the measure, while 105 voted against, according to the Washington County Election Commission.

The money comes from the redirection of the city’s hotel, motel and restaurant (HMR) tax, and officials say voter turnout was high in Tuesday’s election and in early voting that began last week.

The center’s expansion is expected to be completed by 2016.

“We’re talking about almost 30,000-square-feet of space, so most of that is in the lobby, Starr Theater and backstage support space,” said WAC spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt.

Other improvements include technical theater upgrades and more room for arts and performances.

A question of whether to partially fund a planned regional sports park in Fayetteville also passed Tuesday. The question called for $3.5 million in bonds to be put toward the $27 million project.

Final unofficial numbers on that measure showed it passing 3,680 votes (85 percent) to 628 (15 percent). With early and absentee votes in, that measure was passing 685 to 110, according to the election commission.

Some city officials said the regional park would attract more revenue to the city from outsiders who would utilize the park space for organized sports events.

"The ultimate goal of parks and recreation is to establish a regional park where all the kids and all the sports will be in one area," said Connie Edmonston, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation director.