Parks district gripes aired

Heater failure wasn’t the only thing sending a burst of cold air through the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool at Tuesday night’s North Whidbey Parks and Recreation meeting.

A variety of community members showed up to voice their displeasure and opinions toward recent board actions.

Among citizen concerns was the manner in which meetings have been conducted and whether they have followed state laws.

“We have in the past been rather casual with the way we’ve conducted the rules,” Commissioner chair Harvey Prosser responded. “Obviously we’re going to have to tighten things up.”

Avid pool user Tom Johnson was upset enough that in his prepared statement to the board he threatened to go to a higher power.

“We will not ask for your resignation or start a voter recall,” Johnson told the board. “What we have done is forwarded all our findings of fact to the Washington State Attorney General and Washington State Auditor and have asked them to remove you from office for malfeasance and dereliction of duty if things do not improve.”

Johnson also threw out allegations of the board attempting to dispose of Parks Director Jim Shulock. Shulock was signed for another year contract, which Johnson felt should have been more.

“Last spring it was the pool users’ perception that three of the commissioners were attempting to remove the director from his job due to their estimation of his inferior performance,” Johnson said.

These acusations were strongly denied by the board.

“The one year contract renewal was our choice, that wasn’t anything derogatory,” Commissioner Brien Lillquist said. “We were satisfied with his performance and we decided to renew his contract.”

“I’d like to know where this impression that we’re trying to fire the director is coming from,” Lillquist asked of Johnson. “Where did you get the information that we were trying to fire the director, who told you that we were trying to fire the director?”

Not knowing where Johnson got his facts, the commissioners were obviously not pleased by the suggestion but realized the public is allowed to express its opinion, whether it be true or false.

“The public is free to vent their opinions,” Prosser said. “We’re trying to react to the public and do what they want us to do.”

Another topic for concern involved the fixing of the men’s and women’s locker room heaters. For slightly over a month the heaters have been out of service, causing complaints from patrons about the cold.

Pool users were promised that the problem will be fixed as soon as possible, with the estimated completion during the first couple of weeks of February. The project will cost roughly $21,000.

The next NWPRD meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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