More than 200 people are formally protesting the town's purchase of the 12-acre Garcia property.
A new group, Voters for Fiscal Responsibility, started circulating the referendum petitions Oct. 22 and had collected the 200-plus signatures in less than a week.
A total of 368 signatures are needed to force a vote on the Oct. 15 town resolutions for the purchase and its $2.5 million financing deal. The deadline to file the petitions is Nov. 14, according to Town Clerk Silvia Smith.
The referendum drive is led by Harold Snyder, who said he did not expect to have any trouble getting the signatures needed.
"Everyone I have spoken to, except two people, have told me we are doing a good thing for the public. The town has to get its priorities in order," Snyder said.
He added the priorities should be the streets, water and covering the bleachers at the event center, at least in his opinion.
"The town does not need to own any further property," Snyder said. "They are setting a precedent to buy every other piece of property needed for that drainage ditch at $50,000 an acre in a flood plain. This has nothing to do with Main Street."
He said he knows some people will say he and the people circulating and signing the petitions aren't looking to the future.
Snyder said it is not a lack of vision, but a concern for having the town finish what it has started and keep the promises that have already been made.
Snyder said there are about 30 people carrying petitions around town. He said he has been going door-to-door and to businesses. Arrangements are also being made to have a table at a central location in the near future.
If there is any group interested in helping carry the petitions, he can be contacted at 474-3510.
The town council agreed to purchase the 12-acre Garcia property, located at the southeast corner of Main and McLane, in a special meeting. The cost is about $660,000. The financing deal involved additional funds to buy the humane society property, build a new maintenance facility and hangars at the airport.
The council agreed to take out a 15-year loan and obligate future sales tax revenues, allocated to its capital fund, to pay back the money.
The Garcia and humane society properties will potentially play a part in the long-planned drainage work in the American Gulch. The work will control run-off and flooding.
The council could have passed the resolutions with an emergency clause, protecting the action from a referendum. However, no emergency clause was attached, allowing residents to protest through referendum if that was the will of the public.
Should the petitions be filed by the deadline and found to carry 368 valid signatures, an election will be held for the public to decide on the purchase and financing. The election could be held as soon as March, but most likely would be scheduled in May, according to town officials.