Let's take a dip

Oak Harbor’s public pool is scheduled to re-open today to swimmers trying to cool down. If you stopped by the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool last week you met closed doors.

Since July 14 the pool has been closed for what pool director Jim Schulock refers to as “mostly cosmetic changes.” A few major changes are not visible to the public, but they’re sure to notice the installation of a new water boiler and the addition of an independent, secondary hot water tank for the locker room showers.

Previously, the locker room showers were supplied with hot water from the same water heater that gave warmth to the pool, but the showers weren’t always warming up, and pool customers complained of the low shower temperatures.

“With the new hot water tank there shouldn’t be a lack of hot water during high demand times anymore,” Schulock said.

The new boiler replaces the original boiler that was over 18-years-old. It was originally oil-fired, but had been converted to gas fueled. The old boiler passed a 2001 safety inspection by the state of Washington, but since then had developed leaks due to corrosion and rust. The pool is due for a safety and operations check in 2003.

The boiler replacement and addition of the hot water tank for the showers was paid for by pool capital improvement funds set aside by the North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District. The district commissioners had projected the project would cost $170,000, but the price tag so far is looking closer to $148,00 according to Schulock.

Schulock reports that with the new boiler, the pool temperature will be more regulated and can be adjusted without “such a high and low.”

There are still other improvements to be done to the pool such as an electrical system upgrade, but they shouldn’t require a week-long closure such as the one that just past, said Schulock.

Head lifeguard Erika Miller was among the staff who assisted with the cosmetic improvements to the pool.

“We’re really proud of the pool, and we worked really hard down there scrubbing for 13 hours,” Miller said, referring to the staff draining the pool and cleaning the bottom to remove mineral staining.

Additionally, guards and other staff volunteered to paint pool deck walls, and scrub locker room shower areas, all things Schulock and staff hope the public notice.

“We’re going to get some people that just aren’t going to be impressed with all the extra work the staff has done, but they work hard — this is their place,” Schulock said.

The front counter area was also redesigned to give more space in the front lobby, and locker room shower controls were replaced by Schulock and pool operator Tim Hilliard at a savings of over $3,000 when compared to contractor bids.

Hopefully, patrons who currently frequent the pool will see an improvement and spread the word, and the people that come to the pool for the first time will be more apt to come back because it’s a good experience, Schulock said.

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