Parks and Rec halts acquisition talks

South Whidbey Parks and Rec has changed its tune about the acquisition of a historic facility.

The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District has changed its tune about the potential acquisition of a historic facility.

During a meeting Wednesday night, commissioners for the district agreed to back off from trying to acquire Freeland Hall until they learn more information.

Doug Coutts, the district’s executive director, said he read an article in the South Whidbey Record and that the situation seemed more complex than he anticipated. He recommended that the board and the district take a step back from the discussion until Island County and the Holmes Harbor Activity Club reach a resolution.

Coutts had indicated the parks and rec district’s interest in taking over Freeland Hall from the county during a previous meeting. As he had explained to the commissioners, the county is looking to divest itself of the property and the parks and rec district’s potential acquisition could help expand programming while still renting out the hall on weekends. The commissioners were supportive of that idea.

The county currently owns the historic building but has a contract with the Holmes Harbor Activity Club, which is in charge of renting out the facility for events. When asked about the potential change in ownership, the president of the club, Andy Campbell, expressed both surprise and dismay.

When asked Thursday about what situation the county still has to resolve with the club, Campbell said no one from the county has spoken directly with him, except to apologize for not involving the club in the original discussion.