Opinion

Editorial: Pay attention, keep our pool open

John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool is one of Oak Harbor’s most valuable assets so voters should make sure we don’t lose it due to inattention.

Thousands of ballots reached mailboxes last week containing a proposition from the North Whidbey Park and Recreation District. The district is asking voters to continue a modest tax levy for another six years. The bulk of that levy money is used to help support swimming pool expenses not covered by user fees. Other tax funds are used to support the off-leash dog park and ballfields at Clover Valley Park, but the pool is the primary business of the district.

The swimming pool is literally busy from early morning until it closes in the evening. The people it serves coincides with our community profile: Older residents who do their exercises in water and enjoy the social aspect of the pool, young families with children who use the pool for fun and togetherness, competitive swimmers of all ages, and Navy personnel who use the public pool for certification.

One of the original justifications for building the pool was the need to provide swim lessons to island children surrounded by frigid saltwater. Thousands have been taught how to swim through the years and who knows how many lives have been saved because of it? Certainly, a number of tragedies have been avoided thanks to years of swimming and water safety training.

Keeping the pool in operation will cost property owners about the same in the future as they have been paying in the past. That’s 18 cents per thousand of assessed value, or $36 annually on a $200,0000 home. That’s a fair price indeed for all the benefits provided by a public swimming pool.

There is no rational argument to be made against a pool that has been supported by the community for so long. The main threat is likely from inattention. People could vote in a knee-jerk reaction against any tax, regardless of how worthwhile or how long it’s been levied, or they could forget to fill out and return their mail-in ballots. Remember, there will be no polling places this election. If you don’t vote by mail you won’t be voting at all.

Vote yes for continuing the Park and Recreation District levy and make sure your return ballot is in the mail no later than Tuesday, Sept. 20. Let the pool continue to operate smoothly and benefit the community for another six years.

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