Opinion

Pool vote unwise

It is hard to find the logic in the 4-3 decision by the City Council to cut $20,000 from the $100,000 it pays annually to Northwest Center (NWC) to operate Mary Wayte pool. But it is easy to find contradiction.

Words used by Mr. Jahncke and others saying that the NWC needs to be “weaned” from the Island contribution and the notion that the “city is not in the pool business” are condescending and arrogant.

The city is indeed in the business of providing these types of facilities and services to its citizens. It certainly puts itself in the business of providing athletic venues. Witness the new field that the city paid more than $700,000 for at the South Mercer Playfield. What about the $500,000 given for the new football field surface at the high school in 2003? What about the $1 million reportedly earmarked for the Boys & Girls Club’s PEAK facility? Count up the skate park, playground equipment, bike paths and the Community Center. In the summers, the city pays for lifeguards and maintains docks and waterfront parks.

NWC is the non-profit entity that took over Mary Wayte pool from King County when no one else would. The county was going to ‘mothball’ the facility. At the outset, NWC made it clear that it needed support from the city to operate the pool.

NWC is a charitable organization that is not in search of profits. It supports disabled individuals by finding them jobs and housing. Even with the $100,000 that the city has contributed over the past five years, the NWC remains suspended on the razor’s edge between profitability and loss. In 2005, the pool made just $8,970 and in 2006, just $7,557. Some suggest that the NWC simply raise user fees. But the NWC cannot accurately predict how much income will come from those fees. It must retain enough funds to maintain the pool.

Mary Wayte pool is a community asset. It serves Islanders of all ages — from toddlers to octogenarians. It has fostered elite swimmers like the Olympic Gold Medalist, Mary Wayte herself.

Just who will operate the pool if NWC cannot?

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