Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO EDITOR: Let’s hear about the many benefits

To the editor:

We are writing in response to the article “One day pass at new pool could cost $8” written by Jeff VanDerford, on July 19.

A community recreation and aquatics center is an important addition to our community infrastructure. It is critical that the community have clear, accurate and up-to-date information on the progress and direction of the project. To that end, we’ve been quite concerned with the sensationalist and alarmist messages that recent articles about the proposed center have carried. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify several points that were misrepresented in the latest article.

With regard to the daily use fee and overall costs, the architect specifically requested not to be quoted on the daily use fee numbers. He indicated that it is different at every facility, but examples of use fees at existing facilities were in the $4 to $6 range. The $8 fee was a number raised by one of the meeting attendees as the amount that the Sequim facility charges non-residents. He clearly said that we don’t have all of the information, and that daily-use fees will be dictated by a number of variables not yet worked out.

It is important to note that the purpose of the meeting was to assess the design concept, not the fee structure, since the cost estimates aren’t yet known. There are many options for a fee structure: seniors, children and family discounts, resident discounts, discounts for buying multiple-use punch cards and potential membership fees or even sliding scale fees.

The intention of the recreation center is to make healthy recreation and aquatic activities available to all of our community. There will be serious consideration as to how to make the daily use fees affordable.

With regards to the tepid response, a large portion of the meeting attendees were swimmers or parents of swimmers who have an interest in developing fitness and competition opportunities for swimmers. There are two competitive swim teams on South Whidbey; an adult masters program and a children’s swim team. Both teams are overflowing their facilities space and time allotment. There is a waiting list to join the children’s team, and though the masters program is also often full to capacity, it continues to grow in popularity. These folks desire year-round swimming, not just an extended summer season.

This should not be misunderstood as a tepid response toward a community recreation and aquatic center, it is only indicative that the design concept is not yet complete. Without question, we continue to fully support a community pool.

An aquatics facility is not just about kids frolicking in the water. An aquatics environment is a unique environment that is the only option available for some in which to exercise. It reduces the load on weight-bearing joints and muscles, making it an ideal environment for those with arthritis, injuries and other disabilities that make it impossible to exercise on land. Learning to swim should be a part of every child’s education; a graduation requirement for kids living on an island. It is not just a recreational skill; it is a life saving skill. Aquatics is not just about fun, it’s about health, and improving the health and wellness of the residents of South Whidbey — and that has cost saving implications to taxpayers, well beyond the scope of this letter.

Swimming is a lifetime activity and crosses the age spectrum of Whidbey Island residents. Let’s hear about the benefits of a community pool for a change.

Julie Buktenica, Jill Cramer, Carolyn Davidson, John de Wit, Jeff Jacobsen, Brian McCleary, Heather Racicot, Kathy Rogers and Kristan Wheeler

South Whidbe

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