Orange City special election

Orange City residents wait in line to receive ballots for the special election held Tuesday at the Living Water Community Church. Voters cast their ballot on whether or not the city should pass a general obligation bond to fund the proposed Aspire Center for Healthy Living.

ORANGE CITY—Residents of Orange City voted overwhelmingly against the $5 million general obligation bond for the proposed Aspire Center for Healthy Living in a special election Tuesday.

According to the unofficial election results, 56 percent of 1,710 votes opposed the ballot measure. The measure needed at least 60 percent of affirmative votes to be adopted but only 44 percent were in favor.

Marty Guthmiller, chief executive officer of Orange City Area Health System, said he was disappointed with the result of the special election but respected the conclusion the voters reached.

“I do believe that it’s a missed opportunity for Orange City, particularly as a community to be able to come together with the city, the health system, taxpayers and philanthropic means to pull something together,” he said.

“Because a project like this really does require multiple avenues of support, and I think it’s difficult to pull all of those factions together.”

Although plans for the Aspire Center will not go forward, Guthmiller said the health system remains committed to responding to the social determinants of health that the center would have addressed. Those determinants include nutrition, exercise, occupational health and behavioral health.

He added that no plans are yet in place for how the health system will address those determinants but efforts to do so will be less concerted and target individual aspects.

“The Aspire Center was never an end-all for everything, but it was a significant tool that we could use to assist people in the area, adjusting that component of their health,” Guthmiller said.

“How we retool for that is yet to be determined.”

The Aspire Center would have cost an estimated $20 million, with $5 million coming from a property tax levy the general obligation bond called for. The 20-year tax would have levied $1.43 per $1,000 assessed value after subtracting a residential rollback and homestead credit.

The 115,000-square-foot facility would have housed an indoor track, equipment for cardio exercise and weightlifting, an indoor turf field and sports courts. There also would have been programming for senior citizens and youth as well as programming on behavioral health, cooking, nutrition and other areas of health. Plus, the facility would have had an urgent care clinic, physical therapy, massage therapy and occupational health services while employing about a dozen people.