Feelings run deep on Oak Harbor's pool | Editorial

There’s one emotional issue on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, and that is the levy renewal proposal from North Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, which operates the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool in Oak Harbor.

From recent pages in this newspaper, we know that the pool is appreciated by wounded marines and other members of the military; that it provides the only possibly exercise for certainly severely disabled people; and that the U.S. Navy needs the facility so its members can meet swim qualifying standards.

People get emotional over such ideas, that a simple swimming pool can mean  so much for so many, including the U.S. military, which, by the way, pays its own way when using the pool. Over several decades the pool has become a beloved and necessary part of the community, but one that needs resuscitation in the form of tax levy renewal every six years. Without levy money, the pool could not possibly operate. That’s why the public supports such necessities as schools, libraries and recreational facilities. Not everything we need in life is self-supporting financially, but the long-term benefits far surpass the small amount of taxes required to provide them.

No doubt thousands of Whidbey Island kids have learned to swim in the Oak Harbor pool. Swimming opens up a whole new world of recreation, particularly when one lives on an island dotted by lakes. And it’s a life-saver. Once you learn to swim you never forget how, even when the boat you are on is slowly sinking. Swim away, tread water and wait for rescue. It’s easy enough, but if you can’t swim you’ll go down with the boat.

The only danger to the pool is the difficult economic times in which we live. People think twice before renewing existing taxes.

So go ahead, think twice. Is it worth the cost to have a pool in Oak Harbor? The proposed levy is 17 cents per thousand of assessed value, or $42.50 for a $250,000 home. It’s the same as before. Some consider it a tax cut, as it’s a penny less than authorized by the current levy.

There will be no second chance to save the pool before it closes. If voters don’t mark “yes” on their ballots in this election, the pool will close the first day of 2012.

We’ve seen that Oak Harbor area voters will support necessities, and the pool is a necessity to young and old alike. Vote yes and plan to celebrate by taking a swim in New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.


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