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Save Our Pool responds: It's a mixed blessing

POULSBO — The North Kitsap Community Pool will officially remain in business through the end of 2008, after receiving budgetary approval from the North Kitsap School District’s board of directors. Thursday night’s vote — which you can read more about in the article “Budget woes are laid to rest” — was the most recent in a long line of steps taken by several area entities regarding a community amenity facing the chopping block due to budget deficiencies. The board’s decision will keep the pool in operation through Dec. 31, using funds from both the district’s budget and Save Our Pool, a group formed to keep the facility going. Had the budget item not received the go-ahead, the pool would have closed Aug. 31.

Save Our Pool organizer and pool advocate Andrew Sergeant said the decision represents a mixed blessing — one that keeps the pool open but leaves much work to be done.

“I think it’s great they kept the pool open. I’m a little dissappointed how thin they staffed it,” he said. “If you’re going to try and build usage and get corporate donations ... you have to have a good experience when you come in.”

Sergeant referred to the half-time designation of the pool’s front desk clerk, as well as the pool coordinator job, meant to replace the manager position at a wage of $3,193 per month.

“It’s a decision that looks only at the costs and doesn’t look at the impact on the revenue,” he said. “Historically they have made decisions to cut costs without looking at the impact to the revenue or to the usage and I’m afraid we’re into that area again.”

Sergeant and SOP co-organizer Randy Borek have been vocally searching for pool support not just from the district’s board, but from the city of Poulsbo as well. Currently, Sergeant said, the organization is looking to businesses to take up advertising, naming rights and employee benefit sponsorship opportunities. It’s a hard sell, he added, to gain monetary support for a facility for a four month time period.

SOP has raised roughly $35,000, $25,000 of which will go toward keeping the pool open through December. Sergeant said some donations won’t be spendable until the start of 2009.

He understands the board’s current step, but said SOP will continue to “fight like crazy to keep (the pool) open ongoing.”

He’s also turning attention to a metropolitan parks district program, hoping the city and school come together for a long-term, multifaceted solution. While he still believes the school board must discern what will keep the pool supported in the long run, he reiterated he’s glad the amenity’s life has been extended.

“We got half a loaf,” he said. “Better half a loaf than no loaf.”

For more information on SOP, visit savethenorthkitsappool.com.

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