Are we having fun yet?

"Loss of summer rec program leaves less for kids, but some groups fill void"

  • Monday, May 29, 2000 5:00pm
  • News

“Oak Harbor’s City Beach Park may be oddly quiet this summer. The city cut its $83,000 summer recreation program for kids earlier this year in order to balance the budget after Initiative 695 passed. That means no city-sponsored tennis, soccer, basketball, T-ball, arts and crafts, special needs program or paddle boats at City Beach Park.The cuts have left some local parents upset about the city’s priorities and worried that they won’t be able to find things for their children to do this summer.City Public Works Director Cathy Rosen, however, recently told the City Council that the community is coming together to bring back some of the laughter and activity to the waterfront park this summer.Moving and Grooving, a North Whidbey business that provides fitness activities for children, will be offering baseball and soccer programs – and possibly basketball and arts and crafts – at City Beach Park this summer.Ray Raimundi, who runs Moving and Grooving with his wife Charlynn, said that several parents asked them to offer the programs after hearing there won’t be a summer rec program.Although they’ve been teaching soccer, baseball and other sports to children in their indoor facility for the last 10 years, Charlynn said it’s the first time they’re doing it at the park. We didn’t want to compete with the city in the past, she said. Their summer sports programs will be for kids 5 to 9 years old.In addition, Rosen said that high school tennis coach Horace Mells plans to offer a tennis program for both adults and children this summer because the city won’t be offering any.Local teacher Paul Bricko recently contracted with the city to run a concession stand out of the City Beach windmill this summer, paying the city $200 a month. Last summer the city ran the concession stand with student workers.The $20,000 left in the city’s recreation budget, Rosen said, will be used to keep the wading pools open and lifeguards at the City Beach lagoon. But even with the new activities springing up, some people are not happy that the city dropped the summer recreation program in the first place. They point out that there is still a void that the community cannot fill, especially since groups like YMCA are also cutting their summer recreation program.Local parent Eric Marshall, for example, said his 9-year-old daughter was looking forward to participating in the summer basketball program again this year.It’s a shame. The people who are making these decisions don’t have their priorities right… he said. Every year there seems like less and less for kids to do.Eric Gerber, the former city recreation coordinator, said he quit the city after his budget was hollowed out. He said he was disappointed in the city leaders for cutting the children’s programs, even after he located about $50,000 in donations and grants.Oak Harbor is the only city over 12,000 (population) that doesn’t offer year-round recreation for kids and adults, he said. It’s really very unfortunate.While the rec programs were costly, Gerber said there definitely was a need. Some of the more popular programs, like tennis and soccer, had as many as 90 kids participate. There’s still things for kids to doMoving and Grooving, a fun fitness center for kids, is offering summer baseball and soccer programs at City Beach Park in addition to their wide-range of regular programs for children from infancy to 12 years old. The sign-up for summer programs will be on June 1. Call 679-9155. The North Whidbey Parks and Recreation offers sports program and runs the city pool. Call 675-7665.The Partnership With Youth plans to have summer activities for kids in grades 6 to 12. Call 240-9273.Youth Dynamics, a North Whidbey Christian youth outreach, is offering a Monday night get-together from June 26 to July 31, a four-day backpacking trip starting July 10 and a drama performance in August. The activities are open to kids in grades 9 to12. Call 679-1844 or look up: www.yd.org.The YMCA cancelled the summer day camps this year. It has all-day programs for kids who are enrolled, but there may not be any open spots. The Whidbey Playhouse has a summer theater program for kids. Call 679-2237.Several dance schools are holding dance camps this summer.”

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