Oak Harbor digs up plans for abandoned pools

The city is hoping to place “diggables,” like this fake fossil from PlayworldSystems, in an unused wading pool. - Photo provided
The city is hoping to place “diggables,” like this fake fossil from PlayworldSystems, in an unused wading pool.
— image credit: Photo provided

The irony isn’t intentional.

Archaeologists are digging pits all over the parking lot behind the Whidbey Island Bank on Pioneer Way as city officials pray that they don’t find bones, fossils or anything that might waylay the project.

At the same time, the city hopes to buy fake fossils and place them under sand in a wading pool located just feet away from the site so that kids can play archaeologist in a giant sandbox.

A member of the city’s Park Board is spearheading a fundraiser to purchase the equipment, so it won’t cost the taxpayers anything.

Hank Nydam, city parks director, presented members of the City Council during a Wednesday workshop with a proposal for dealing with the two abandoned wading pools in the waterfront park. City officials closed down the 1960s-era mini-pools last summer because they no longer conform to newer health codes regarding water circulation and the city doesn’t have the money to retrofit them.

Nydam said the city received complaints about the ugliness of the fenced-off wading pools, so he brought a few options to the volunteer Park Board.

Under the plan the members approved, the wading pool on the east side of the park will be filled with sand. Inside the sand will be hidden “diggables,” such as a fake velociraptor fossils and other faux remnants of creatures from the past.

“The idea is that kids get to go out and play archaeologist in the sand,” Nydam said. “We all know kids love to dig.”

At the wading pool on the west side of the park, the board members hope to install musical apparatus for children. The pool would be filled in with fill material and concrete; such musical toys as giant chimes, play drums and “horn or bell panels” will be installed.

The total cost is estimated at just over $20,000.

Nydam said Erica Wasinger volunteered to help raise the money from local service agencies and others. Nydam said anyone who wants to donate to the project can call him at 279-4756.

City officials previously talked about replacing one of the wading pools with a spray park, with soft sprays, bubblers and other water features for children to play in.

Nydam said the idea isn’t dead, but it doesn’t have to be in place of a wading pool. He pointed out that the community will soon get the chance to give their two cents about possible community amenities at the site of the wastewater treatment facility.


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