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North Whidbey Park and Recreation District dives into pool expansion

Greg Case swims laps at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Swimming Pool. North Whidbey Park and Recreation officials are looking at ways to expand the popular facility to meet the needs of more people, possibly at the cost of $8 million. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Greg Case swims laps at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Swimming Pool. North Whidbey Park and Recreation officials are looking at ways to expand the popular facility to meet the needs of more people, possibly at the cost of $8 million.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

With more people, including high school athletes and Navy personnel, using Oak Harbor’s pool, North Whidbey Park and Recreation District is looking at a possible expansion.

Park commissioners are holding a meeting Tuesday, July 20, to review initial plans for expansion and talk about how to pay for its estimated $8 million price tag.

At some point, leaders would probably go to the voters to see if they would approve a bond to finance construction costs.

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District recently hired ORB Architects to complete a feasibility study concerning pool expansion. The Renton-based architecture firm is the same company that designed the original pool building in 1981.

Initial plans call for adding a large, zero-depth leisure pool that could be used for aerobics, lap swimming, lessons and recreation. There would also be a “lazy river” that would include water slides and a pool-side viewing terrace. A lazy river is a popular feature at water parks. It has a slow current which allows people to gently ride along on rafts or inner tubes. More meeting space, additional parking and expanded locker rooms are also included in the project.

The John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool was built in 1983 and currently includes a 25-yard, six-lane lap pool, wading pool and spa.

The number of people using the pool has increased over the years. Craig Carlson, pool executive director, said nearly 12,000 people used the pool in June alone.

“It’s really hard to keep everybody happy and that’s why we’re expanding,” Carlson said.

He said there are 120 youth on the swim team, which is up from 40 several years ago. He estimated that pool numbers are double from five or six years ago.

When the high school teams compete at the pool, it makes it difficult for other people use the facility.

With the expansion, the high school could hold its swim meets while leaving room for other swimmers, Carlson said. In addition the pool would be better able to meet the needs of Navy personnel, who have used the facility for physical readiness testing.

Carlson said the commissioners have a number of issues to discuss during Tuesday’s meeting. They have to review the plans and then decide on a possible timeline. To pay the full price of the remodel, the district would have to go to voters for a 20-year bond, which, if approved, would raise taxes.

First, the park and recreation district has to go before voters for its maintenance and operations levy renewal next year. That levy is crucial to pool operations and officials don’t want to put it at risk. Carlson said the levy accounts for approximately half of the park and recreation district’s revenue.

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District meets Tuesday, July 20, 4 p.m. at in the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool meeting room, 85 SE Jerome St.

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