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Vanderzicht Pool improvements planned

"Whidbey swimmers could see improvements at Oak Harbor's John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool later this summer, thanks in large part to the maintenance and operations levy North Whidbey voters passed last November.Pool director Jim Shulock said renovation of the pool's air-handling system and replacement of an aging spa are at the top of the list. He said North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District board members have been reviewing cost estimates based on an audit of the pool's needs.Prior to last fall's vote, pool officials said there were plenty of things that needed help at the pool, including the air system, lighting and a broken hot tub as well as renovation of the showers, locker rooms and pool's heating system. When the levy first hit the ballot last September it went down to defeat. Fearing that the pool might have to be shut down or that services might have to be drastically cut, park officials decided to run the levy proposal again in November. This time, following an all-out push by pool supporters, it passed convincingly. An initial audit of pool needs was released last month. It showed repair and maintenance costs a little on the high end, Shulock said. So officials are now looking at ways to reduce costs and phase in some of the projects over the six-year lifespan of the levy.The pool was built in 1983 and many of its systems are considered inefficient by today's standards - especially in the area of energy-efficiency. Demands on the pool are high. It operates nearly every day from as early as 5 a.m. until after 8 p.m. and serves around 3,000 people per month in the winter and more than 4,000 per month during the summer. It is the only public swimming facility on Whidbey Island.Shulock said he hopes to get some projects started before fall and added that whenever renovation work begins it will have to be coordinated with the pool's busy schedule to reduce downtime. Come fall, the pool is also obligated to be ready for school swim teams. Two pool needs have already been taken care of, Shulock said. A broken hot tub was repaired thanks to donations and a new handicap lift has been installed.The approved property tax levy can be used for repair, maintenance and replacement of equipment at the pool. Pool user fees supplement the levy funds."

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