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Navy may build its own pool on base

A possible new swimming pool at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station could impact the future expansion of Oak Harbor’s public pool.

Pool Director Craig Carlson told the North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District commissioners last week that he has received information that the Navy has revisited the idea of having a pool on base as part of the proposed new fitness center penciled in for fiscal year 2010-2011.

“The new fitness center would be constructed with funds received from the Department of Defense and the cost of operating the facility would be paid by NAS Whidbey Island,” Carlson said.

If a pool is included with the fitness center, it would be in competition with John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool. This would have a direct effect on the use of the district’s facility by Navy personnel, their families, dependents and retirees, who make up a large part of the current patrons.

The Navy pool, if built, would not be like the old pool which was a “training tank” that they let people swim in. The old pool was closed when a new water training facility was built.

For the past few years, Navy personnel have been using the public pool to meet swimming standards and for family recreation.

The proposed base pool would facilitate large-group aquatic fitness training and would provide related swimming opportunities for Navy families.

“All bases around the area have recreational pool facilities,” Carlson noted.

Commission Chairwoman Sally Dillon said the idea of the Navy having a pool is something the pool expansion committee will have to discuss.

She directed Carlson to maintain communication with the Navy to track how plans develop.

“We need a bigger facility, no matter what the Navy does,” Dillon said. “Some of the things we need include a warmer pool that could be used for handicapped exercising and by arthritis patients.”

At this time, there has been no final construction approval on either the new fitness center or the pool on the base.

Carlson said the Navy will continue to use the public pool until an alternative is available.

Dillon reported that 98 surveys have been returned by patrons of John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool indicating what facilities they would like to have included should a pool expansion project be undertaken sometime in the future.

The district approved $25,000 in this year’s budget to hire a consultant and to do a feasibility study on the cost of the proposed pool expansion before any decision is made.

Dillon said the district will accept surveys from patrons until the end of March.

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