Whidbey park district looks for new director

The North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District is looking for help after its long-serving director resigned at the end of the year.

Craig Carlson, who has been director for the entity that owns and operates the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool for more than eight years, resigned.

Ron Rhinehart, president of the district’s board of commissioners, said Carlson had been planning to retire in March, but because of personal and medical reasons, he pushed that date up to Jan. 1.

“We certainly wish him well,” Rhinehart said.

Repeated efforts to contact Carlson weren’t successful.

While the parks district includes a running club, baseball program and dog walking park, the pool is by far the biggest part of its operations, accounting for approximately 80 percent of its budget.

In recent years, the number of people swimming at the pool has skyrocketed. The pool saw 54,869 visitors in 2000. By 2010, that number jumped to 117,619. While the pool is popular with Whidbey residents, officials did have a scare in 2011 when voters rejected a levy renewal. Thanks to a community outreach, voters changed their minds in November and passed the levy.

With Carlson’s resignation, Neil Romney, head coach of the North Whidbey Aquajets, was named interim director until a suitable replacement can be found.

Rhinehart said commissioners Dennis Jepson, Scott Vogt and former commissioner Allan McDougall worked to develop a position profile and job description for the executive director spot. The district started advertising the job in January.

Rhinehart said that the emphasis will be to find the right candidate rather than quickly filling the position.

He complimented the pool staff and Romney for their efforts to keep the pool running smoothly during the transition. He said he doesn’t see any way a decision could be made before April, and the selection could be made later, even going into the summer.


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