Pool bond slated for November ballot

The Parks and Recreation District will have a $27 million bond on the general election ballot.

In a departure from previous discussions, board members for the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District have decided to place a $27 million bond measure to build an aquatic facility on the general election ballot.

During a meeting Wednesday night, the majority of the board agreed that the bond’s placement on the Nov. 7 ballot would generate more visibility instead of being on the April 2024 special election ballot, which was the earlier plan.

Commissioner Matt Simms said moving ahead with the bond request during this time gives the public a greater voice because of the expected turnout of between 9,000 and 11,000 voters, compared to 7,000 in special elections.

The board did not seem worried about competing with the South Whidbey School District’s nearly $80 million bond on the same ballot, which had been an earlier concern.

The parks and rec district’s bond for the design, development and construction of a new recreational aquatic and wellness facility is $27 million. The rate is 17 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a homeowner whose assessed value is $500,000, this amounts to a monthly increase of about $7, or $85 per year.

Business Manager Carrie Monforte expressed concern about rushing to submit the bond request for the November ballot at a time when the district is without a full-time executive director and there are many other things going on.

Simms, however, assured her that the public does not feel that the board is being too hasty in its decision. He pointed out that the board has been discussing a bond for over a year, and understands the cost and design more than when it started.

In the end, the board decided in a 3-1 vote to put the bond on the upcoming general election ballot. Commissioner Jake Grevé voted in opposition, and Commissioner Erik Jokinen was absent from the meeting.

The district is currently searching for volunteers from the community to be on “pro” and “con” committees for this measure. Each committee can have up to three members, who are responsible for writing the “for” and “against” statements in the Island County voters’ guide.

For more information, contact Monforte at swparks@swparks.org or (360) 221-5484.