Support sought to re-open Lange's Ranch Park

KEYPORT — Juel Lange, 83, misses the sounds of laughter and play that came before his public pool and park was shut down six years ago. So much so that he wants to re-open his Lange’s Ranch Park, but needs some help to do so. The park, which featured an outdoor pool, was closed because Lange wasn’t able to keep up and afford county-adopted regulations.

“(The County) was putting more and more on me that I couldn’t complete,” Lange said. “It just never ends, these people would be out of jobs if they didn’t make new codes.” In the fall 2004, Lange was excited for the upcoming spring, but it was an excitement that never came to fruition.

The park, which accommodated weddings and other catered events and had forest trails and a softball field, closed up shop. On hot, sunny days, Lange would see as many as 100 people enjoying his pool and facilities. Some private events drew crowds of almost 300.

“When we started, it was just the pool. And then neighborhood kids wanted to come and it grew from there,” Lange said.

Since the park’s closure, it has fallen into slight disarray. The pavilion is now being used for storage; the commercial-sized kitchen remains dormant; the child-sized chess and checker boards need pressure washing and fixing and other small mending and cleaning would be needed to re-open the park. Lange predicts it would only take two weeks for him to bring the park back up to its former glory.

“It’s just sitting there, doing nothing,” Lange said. “All throughout the years, I’ve had comments of it being such a nice place.”

At the time the park closed, Kitsap County regulations mandated Lange make updates and repairs, including a new septic system, raising the pool fence, installing a second drain in the pool, hiring a lifeguard and installing a monitoring service for the fire alarm system in the banquet pavilion. The septic system alone would have cost between $20,000 and $30,000.

“So many people came and said, ‘are you going to get this open again or what?’” Lange said.

A few weeks ago, a letter reached out to people who at one point or another were patrons at the park, drumming up support to get it re-opened.

The letter urges supporters to write letters to county commissioners and media, volunteering to solicit petitions and other possible help in the future. Michael O’Connell, a park supporter, said the park was a nice thing to have.

“I just live a few blocks away,” O’Connell said. “It’s a nice little community area and it’s an old guy trying to earn a little bit of income and trying to contribute to the community.”

O’Connell, who moved into the area right before the park closed, thinks the park was a good thing to have. O’Connell’s sons were able to swim in the community pool the last year it was open. He said it helped out the community and Lange. However, the support hasn’t been pouring in.

“I only got maybe three phone calls since the letter went out,” O’Connell said. “It’s a shame, it’s a real shame.”

County Commissioner Stever Bauer said he has not been contacted yet regarding the park.

“I’m not optimistic, but I’m amicable,” Lange said about reopening his park.

If you would like to get involved to help reopen the Langes Ranch Park, contact Michael O’Connell (360) 697-9039.

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