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Petitions circulating in South Whidbey to save Freeland Lanes

Freeland Lanes might have a chance to reopen if two South End residents have anything to say about it.

Two people have started petition drives to keep Freeland Lanes open as a bowling alley.

The two South End residents said they hate to see the final frame for the bowling alley, which they say is a an important part of the South Whidbey community.

Nancy Nowlin and Edward Hueneke have nearly 75 signatures so far.

South Whidbey’s only bowling alley ceased operations May 31, after 50 years in business and several owners.

Nowlin said everyone in the bowling leagues — about 70 people — have signed her petition.

Nowlin said Roger Simmons, the manager of the bowling alley, is the heart and soul of the business.

“Roger adopts my philosophy of ‘pay it forward’ by making bowling affordable for families,” Nowlin said.

She said she has seen Simmons discount the cost for families when the cost of bowling and pizza have threatened a night out. And Nowlin said bowlers came from as far away as Coupeville and Oak Harbor to bowl in Freeland.

“The bowling alley isn’t just important to Freeland and Langley residents,” she said.

“Roger is the best manager, not only because of his commitment to the community, but because he has the mechanical background needed at the bowling alley,” she added.

The bowling alley is a popular draw, added Heather Pentz of Freeland.

“When my kids come home to visit from Seattle and New York, they want a family-night out at the bowling alley in Freeland,” she said.

Hueneke said people were eager to sign his petition.

“I could have gotten a lot more names. Everybody I talked to was willing to sign it because they hate to see the lanes close down,” he said.

“There is a limited number of recreational opportunities on the South End,” he added. “It would be a shame if we had to drive to Oak Harbor or go across on the ferry to Lynnwood or Everett to go bowling, especially with the high cost of fuel.”

Hueneke is an avid bowler and has been bowling at Freeland Lanes since moving to the South End in 1992. He worked for a time for the previous owners Les and Diane Dodge.

Hueneke said he sent a copy of his petition to lawmakers including state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, Congressman Rick Larsen and others.

“They need to know how important Freeland Lanes is to the community,” he said.

Hueneke said he worded his petition in a way that would offer a solution. The petition mentions a possible purchase by the parks district or others.

Simmons cited financial concerns as the reason for closing. He was leasing the building from Steve Myers, who owns the property and has said he hopes to lease it again as a bowling alley.

Simmons said he has gotten a lot of calls from people who are sad to see it closed.

“If circumstances would have been different, I would have liked to stay open,” he said.

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