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UPDATE: Park district cuts climbing wall from rec center project

FREELAND — The South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District has determined that more South Enders would likely pay to play tennis than climb a rock wall.

As they fine-tuned the details of their $15.4 million pool and recreation center Monday, district officials decided their proposed climbing wall wouldn’t draw as many paying customers as tennis courts would. The district will use the estimated $200,000 that would have been spent on the wall to create infrastructure for adding tennis facilities to the rec center.

The money will pay for site work for future construction, which could include covered courts and night lighting. Park commissioners hope donations from private interests will pay for the completion of the tennis facility.

Park Commissioner Don Wood wondered how the change could affect the rec center.

“Is the current locker facility big enough for tennis players, or can it be expanded?” Wood asked.

Consultant Geoff Anderson said additional lockers could be added to the rec center if they were needed.

The park district is asking voters to approve a 20-year bond on Nov. 4 to pay for the aquatic and recreation center, which would be built at the Community Park’s entrance on Maxwelton Road in Langley.

Park Commissioner Allison Tapert had staffing concerns. She said the latest financial estimate didn’t provide enough lifeguards for the two pools, hot tub and water slide.

Anderson said he needed to know what hours the pools would be open because that would determine staffing levels.

“At peak times in the summer, you’ll need three lifeguards for the leisure pool, two for the lap pool and two for the water slide, one at the top and one at the bottom,” he explained.

Commissioners decided that the pool should to stay open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week to start. Anderson will re-configure the operating expenses based on that information.

In order to save money, Anderson proposed cutting back the number of parking spaces from 244 to about 125, and commissioners agreed.

Maintenance supervisor Tom Fallon asked about the water source for the pools.

“Our water smells like rotten eggs,” he said. “Will we need a water-treatment plant, similar to the school district’s?”

Park Commissioner Linda Kast said a deal might be worked out with the schools to share their new $700,000 treatment facility, which isn’t yet on-line.

Anderson said he will take commissioner’s questions back to his office and re-do the financial projections.

“I’m hoping people see this project as offering good value for their money,” he said.

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