It’s surprising that South Whidbey doesn’t have a public swimming pool.
Whidbey is an island, after all. It’s vital that kids learn the basics of swimming and be comfortable in the water, even if their families don’t belong to the right club. It’s a matter of safety.
A group called the South Whidbey Parks and Aquatics Foundation understands this. The members are raising money to fund a feasibility study to see if it makes financial and logistical sense to build an aquatics complex on the South End. The idea is that the facility could be funded through a bond measure and be owned and operated by the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District.
The feasibility study could cost anywhere from $12,000 to $50,000. It’s a lot of money for a small group to raise, which is why any vote on the issue is probably at least four years away. One of the fundraisers is the annual Turducken Trot 5k race.
The community should support both the fundraising effort and the concept of a municipal pool.
Besides swimming lessons, a pool can provide many other benefits for a community. They offer valuable and safe exercising opportunities, whether it’s hardcore lap swimmers, older people looking for low-impact calisthenics or children splashing about.
Andrea Newton, president of the Parks and Recreation District, also points out that a facility like a public pool helps build a sense of community.
Currently, the only public pool on the island is the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool in Oak Harbor, which, ironically, is going through financial trouble after a supermajority of voters didn’t support the recent levy for maintenance and operations.
That experience shouldn’t be seen as a reason not to build a municipal pool on South Whidbey, but as a warning about the importance of good public relations and open communication when it comes to public facilities.
The South End needs a pool, but the community should know it’s something that needs continual support.