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Lange’s Ranch Park rides off into the sunset

KEYPORT — Citing “non-feasible, costly, county-adopted regulations,” as the causes, owner Juel Lange today closed his nearly 35-year-old Lange’s Ranch Park, ceasing with it Kitsap County’s only outdoor public pool.

The ranch, which hosted everything from weddings to employee picnics, sported a myriad of activities, including the pool. But following the health department’s decree that Lange replace the facility’s septic system by Sept. 30, the owner decided to throw in the towel.

“It’s too small of a business to meet (these) never-ending requirements for primarily a four-month annual operation,” Lange said. “It’s not worth it.”

He said four different requirements from Kitsap County spurred him to shut down the facility as they placed too heavy a burden on the facility financially. Lange said the county and state denied him a beer and wine license for banquets, was asking him to put in a new septic system, fire alarms system and to add new pool regulations.

“All are straws that broke the camel’s back,” he commented.

But he referred specifically to the Kitsap County Health Department’s demand of a new septic system as the end of the line for the business, stating that a new system would have cost between $20,000 and $30,000. Lange claimed he had just replaced his septic system five years ago.

Kitsap County Manager for Land Use and Environmental Review Eric Baker said nothing of the ordinary was done to impede on Lange’s operation — including the septic requirements — but rather it was the ranch’s enlargement as a business that led to new regulations.

“It was the expansion of his facilities and scope of operations that led to increased requirements,” Baker said.

Speaking on the septic issue, Baker said that Lange hadn’t consulted the county for permits when he last replaced the system. As a result, it may not have met county and health district requirements.

Another of Lange’s complaints with the county was that he was restricted from serving beer and wine products at his ranch. He stated the county denied the permit to do so because the park is on residential — not commercial — land.

A new commercial fire-alarm system would have to be added to continue operations as well, at a cost Lange said he was not willing to pay. But because Lange had expanded a courtyard and pavilion on his property — some of which had been done without permits, Baker said — he was required to add the additional alarms and precautions.

“Due to the number of people (the facility) accommodated, he was required to install the necessary fire alarms to protect occupants in case of a fire,” Baker said.

Also looming on Lange’s mind were new health department rules regarding pool operation, including the addition of a permanent life-guard, heightened walls and an additional pool drain.

In closing the ranch, Lange said there is much he will miss about operating Kitsap’s only public outdoor pool, among the other aspects of the park.

“I was glad to open the swimming pool in the spring and glad to close it in the fall,” he said. “I will miss seeing the kids.”

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