South Whidbey survey takes deep dive into community’s priorities for public pool

A bond measure in 2022 might be another funding source for the pool along with grants.

A recent survey assessing South Whidbey’s interest in an aquatic center has surpassed the goal of receiving 1,000 responses.

At least 1,700 responses were garnered for the survey, which was a joint effort among the South Whidbey Parks and Aquatic Foundation, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District and a third-party consulting team.

Island Senior Resources helped in reaching out to senior citizens in the community.

The survey is the first step in an ongoing feasibility study that will also assess community demographics, operations costs of the proposed aquatic facility and its potential revenue.

Survey respondents answered questions about what programs they would most like to see in an aquatic center.

Matt Simms, a member of the parks and rec district’s board of commissioners, said the survey might be the most successful in the history of the district.

The public indicated a big focus on learning how to swim and water safety, a priority that has already been established for the center.

Other priorities include lap swimming, open swimming, group exercise in the water and aquatic physical therapy.

There was also a lot of interest expressed in parents and toddlers swimming and in special needs programs.

Simms said survey respondents were of all ages and there was an even balance among the population centers in Clinton, Langley and Freeland.

The consulting team that is completing the feasibility study for the project will turn the results of the study into a program, or schedule, for the center.

The study will also inform the design of the pools and will fine-tune the cost of the project.

Currently, internal estimates from a steering committee for the 20,000-square-foot facility put the price tag at $13 million, although that number could change.

Preliminary designs feature three different pools, which allow room for lap swimming, learning how to swim and aquatic physical therapy.

That concept, Simms said, is based on a sustainability model from a national organization.

“We want this facility to be sustainable,” he said.

The consulting team should have the program available in May. The public’s input on the updated concept and the design will most likely be sought in June.

After that, the next steps for the project will include working on the fundraising strategy. Grant cycles will be opening up in 2022. In addition, a bond measure in 2022 might be another funding source.