Navy seeks pool discount

The commanding officer of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station wants Navy members and their families to get a bargain if they swim in Vanderzicht Memorial Pool or bask in the hot tub.

Capt. Stephen Black recently sent a letter to the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District asking officials to consider giving a military discount in pool admission. The letter explained that a pool on base which used to be available to families on a limited basis is being closed as a new conditioning pool is being built.

District commissioners discussed the request at the last board meeting and they all seemed to agree that it was an idea worth looking into. Craig Carlson, the new director, said that an agreement with the Navy could help bring more people to the pool, but he emphasized that the district already gives special discounts during family and youth swimming sessions.

After discussing options for swim discounts, the board instructed Carlson to contact the Navy and try to figure out what kind of agreement can be reached.

But not everyone at the meeting liked the idea of Navy discounts. Fred Henninger, a retired dentist who’s running for commissioner against T.J. Harmon-Fisher, said people who live on Navy property aren’t paying for the levy that supports the pool, as all other North Whidbey residents do.

“We are subsidizing them like the devil...” he said. “Two thirds of the community is subsidizing the other third.”

Kim Martin, the base public affairs officer, said the Navy is hoping to partner with the pool in order to provide affordable swimming opportunities for Navy families. She said it’s part of the Navy’s “quality-of-life initiative.”

“We’re not sure what can be worked out yet,” she said.

Martin said the base used to allow limited family swimming at a pool used for water survival training. But the Navy is building a new, state-of-the-art pool that should be completed in December. The new facility is designed to simulate being ejected from a plane, having an aircraft go down in water and being hoisted from the water by a helicopter.

Martin said the new pool is not suited for children because it drops off quickly into deep water. She said the base doesn’t have the funds to keep the old pool running for recreational swimming.

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