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Aurora — A referendum petition that would have allowed residents to vote on whether they wanted a new parking lot downtown has failed to gather enough valid signatures, according to the Portage County Board of Elections.
Brad Cromes, Board of Elections deputy director, said July 25 there were 593 valid signatures turned in — short of the 611 required.
Cromes said while 716 names were submitted, 65 names were ruled invalid because the signature did not match that filed with the Board of Elections.
He said many of those 65 names were invalid because people printed their name rather than writing it, while some people also signed a different name than was on file with the Board of Elections. He said another 39 names were not registered voters.
Cromes originally said 596 valid signatures were required, but later corrected the number as 611 — 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2010 election for Ohio governor.
If enough valid signatures had been presented, the issue would have gone to the November ballot.
Resident Rita Scott, who spearheaded the petition drive, said, “It was really a surprise [to hear the outcome], but I am so proud of everyone who signed the petitions. Maybe they made a mistake when they signed, but that doesn’t change their opinion.”
Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said the planned improvements at Kiwanis-Moore Park, including a new ballfield, walkway and expanded parking, which were temporarily halted because of the petition drive, will go forward now that the issue will not go on the ballot.
The project will include an improved Field 4, a landscaped walkway around the ballfields and to businesses along Route 43, and additional paved parking.
See more in the July 30 Aurora Advocate.