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Pool revenue takes a leap

North Whidbey Parks and Recreation Director Craig Carlson reported at the board’s December meeting that recent events at the pool have gone swimmingly with popular new programs and increased revenues.

The most recent pool events, the Mystery Movie Swim and the Santa’s Surprise Swim Spectacular, had good turn outs and positive feedback from the public.

But the main point of interest Carlson noted was the revenue increase over the prior year at John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool.

Carlson said the pool’s revenue increased $64,000 from 2003 to 2004. He said this 26 percent improvement reflects the increase in participation in pool programs, activities and what the facility has to offer.

“Revenues have more than exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Just to give you an example of just how well we did this year ... admission fees are $10,000 over what they were last year.”

Swim lesson revenue also went up. Last year lessons brought in $41,000 and as of Dec. 15, 2004, swim lesson revenue had nearly doubled to $81,000.

Harvey Prosser, Parks and Recreation board member, said he is pleased with the revenue increase.

“We’ve worked very hard to do so,” he said.

Prosser said he thinks the primary factor in the increase in pool revenue is the fact that Carlson is set on improving all aspects of the pool and its services.

Carlson credits a major part of the pool’s increase in popularity to the improvements pool employees have made on the pool in the past three years, which are directly related to the increase in funds from the community.

“One of the reasons, of course, that we’re having much better participation all the way around has been the money that the taxpayers gave us to improve this facility,” he said.

With this money, pool staff have had the funds to make necessary repairs and improvements.

“Our major increase really has been the swim lesson participation,” Carlson said. “We’ve done a lot of different things to improve that.”

In 2004, pool staff and swimming instructors expanded offered times and classes, tried to make class sizes smaller, and increased student teacher time so each student could maximize each lesson.

Carlson said in the past three years, they have also installed new heating and ventilation systems for the pool’s air and water systems.

“People are not freezing to death,” Carlson said. “It’s a lot more like paradise when you’ve got 80 degree heat ... that makes it much more enjoyable.”

This is proven by numbers showing an increase in the pool’s popularity as a party site. Pool rentals rose from 1,500 in 2003 to 6,500 in 2004.

Carlson said the facility also received a new lighting system, new vanities in the bathrooms and a new acoustical system. And lastly, they have tried to improve and increase the recreational side of the pool. The special swim events and more of a variety during free swim times have helped out a lot, Carlson said.

“We work for the citizens of Oak Harbor,” he said. “We try to find out what their needs are.”

Pool users have responded positively to the changes, as reflected in the increased revenue.

“I’ve been here about three years,” said Pat Christenson, a Coupeville resident. “And I love the improvements they’ve done.”

Christenson and Oak Harbor resident Judy Dewing enjoyed a soak in the pool’s hot-tub after participating in one of the pool’s morning water aerobics classes. They said they appreciate the new acoustic panels because now they can listen to music on a sound system and not feel overwhelmed by the echo and volume of the building’s noise. They also said they like the pool’s equipment and new water-heating system, and overall, they enjoy the benefit of having an affordable activity in the community.

Carlson said expenses rose in 2004 as well as income, but he said the bottom line is that they will come out well on top of the prior year.

He emphasized they couldn’t have done it without the help of the community.

Prosser said a new pool levy is coming before the public this year, and he hopes it is favorably received by the community so the pool can continue to serve the public as a community asset.

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