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Pool won’t be going down the drain

POULSBO — A wave of public support washed into the North Kitsap School District board meeting Thursday night, voicing its concern over a recent suggestion that the community pool be closed.

NKSD president Melanie Mohler did her best to calm the waters, quickly addressing the issue at the beginning of the meeting.

“It was never a discussion to be on the chopping block,” Mohler said. “It’s not on the chopping block. We do support the pool.”

That was welcome news to the group, which became worried by a comment to the contrary made by board member Ed Strickland at a May 10 meeting.

While support for the amenity is on the rise, the NKSD still pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into its maintenance and operation annually, according to district finance director Nancy Moffatt. It costs approximately $426,000 to run the pool. Revenues bring in about $206,000, she said, and as a result the NKSD ends up losing the remaining $220,000 annually. To help reduce this burden, various pool proponents in the North Kitsap are dedicated to helping the amenity generate more revenue.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said the city is also working to keep the pool open to the public.

“The city of Poulsbo is supportive of keeping the pool open. We will support it in any way we possibly can,” she said. “Hopefully groups in the area will explore the idea of metropolitan parks districts. Those districts need to come from a citizen group. We will stand behind those kinds of efforts any way we can.”

Randy Borek, who serves on a task force created to save the pool, said the amenity needs to generate more revenue to ensure it remains open for long haul. The 10-member pool task force was formed in November 2006 with this in mind.

“The first step is to make sure the pool generates more money,” Borek said. “We have a lot of opportunities to create revenue for the pool. We need to concentrate on community partnerships. It’s going to take a community effort to do it. It’s going to take time.”

Supporters at the meeting seemed more than willing to go the distance.

“I am glad it’s not being considered for the chopping block,” he said North Kitsap resident James Wilson. “The pool is a wonderful asset for our community.”

North Kitsap High School 2004 graduate Jacklene Salwei said the pool has made a difference in her life.

“I have been swimming up there since I was 6 years old,” she said. “I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the opportunities and activities I received at the pool over the years. Swimming has helped me throughout my college career. It’s taught me time management skills. The pool is a great asset to our area.”

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