Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 2:29 PM on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Soldotna voters nix visitor center purchase

Soldotna voters rejected a city ballot measure seeking the go-ahead to purchase the Hutchings Auto Group Building for the purpose of relocating the Soldotna Visitor Center during a special election held Tuesday, with 60.8 percent of the voters checking no.

Gloria Wisecarver said Tuesday during the vote that she did not think it was a good idea to move the visitor center.

"I don't think it's the right location," Wisecarver, 81, said. "It seems like it would just be a bottleneck there at that corner."

Wisecarver was among the majority Tuesday — the results of the special election showed 60.8 percent, or 358 votes against the measure, while 231 people, or 39.2 percent of voters were in favor of the measure. The results will not be official until next Monday, when all of the absentee votes will be counted. As of Monday, there were about 77 absentee ballots, but that number was expected to rise, Soldotna City Clerk Teresa Fahning said.

Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michelle Glaves said the residents of Soldotna showed they did not agree with the chamber's proposed move.

"Obviously the chamber board thought that this was a great project and would be a great asset for the people of Soldotna," Glaves said after the results were posted. "But the voters spoke otherwise."

Soldotna business owner Norm Blakeley said he thought voters weren't getting the whole story, and that's what may have led to the measure failing.

"The city's talking about a visitors center and the (Soldotna Chamber of Commerce) is talking about a convention center," Blakeley said.

Glaves said the process to find a new space for the visitor center will continue.