At one time the next step for the empty downtown Washington High School in Sioux Falls became a heated debate.
Former KELOLAND reporter Vernon Brown looks into the controversy:
If there's one thing most people agree on in the upcoming election, it's the $19 million convention center at the arena site. Even the vote no people like the concept and the vote no people aren't even opposed to an art center in Sioux Falls. They just don't want one in the old Washington High School.
"Our major opposition to the Pavilion has to do with parking. First of all, we have doubts like everybody and the location, it's not co-located with other facilities," a vote no supporter said.
"Doing these projects at Washington High costs about half as much as it would if we were to go out to the mall or out to the Falls or out to the arena and to new construction," a Pavilion supporter said.
Pavilion supports say there are more questions about their project because it's harder to visualize.
There are three main components to the Pavilion project. It would hold a science museum with hands-on displays for kids of all ages. And an omni-theater would be added on to attract visitors. The city's fine arts theater would also have galleries in the Pavilion. And in the heart of the building would be a 1,900 seat Performing Arts Center.
"We've been using the coliseum now for nine-decades. It was originally built for cattle exposition. We can do better than that in this number one city," another Pavilion supporter said.
But the opponents think the city can do even better than gutting old Washington High.
"There's got to be something, somewhere, somehow in Sioux Falls as a big new glittering center and then we're ready to pull some people in for the 21st century," an opponent said.
The Pavilion opponents are also questioning the financing for the project. Remodeling will cost $21 million; the city will pay for $15 million of it with city attainment tax monies. $6 million in private donations will make up the rest of the funding.
The opponents say there's not enough entertainment tax money to pay for a convention center and Pavilion. But the backers say there is.
"If we ever have a monthly or weekly short term short fall, we can dip very briefly into the second penny sales tax but then by the terms of the ordinance, we have to pay that back as a loan," a Pavilion supporter said.
After three years of studies, both sides say it's time to let the people decide if the old school building will graduate to a new use.
"I think it'd be great for Sioux Falls to have a convention center, do something with Washington High that is going to be, you know, an asset to the community would be great," a Sioux Falls resident said.
"Somehow I think if we voted in we're going to end up having taxes raised despite what people say," another Sioux Falls resident said.
"First, we're going to give a very useful meaning to the building of a former high school. So that's a good deal, I like it," a Pavilion supporter said.
And after the voters speak at the polls, the debate over old Washington High will either end or rage on until some else comes up with a new plan for the old school.