Community Aquatic Center
Aquatic Center a High Priority for South Whidbey Residents
A 2019 Parks District survey of the community’s priorities received nearly 700 responses, with more than 80% expressing support for an aquatic wellness center. This level of support made the aquatics wellness initiative the highest ranked project in the 6-year Parks District Comprehensive Plan. In early 2021 another survey, specific to an aquatic center, was released by our feasibility consultant, Ballard*King and Associates. This survey received more than 1700 responses representing more than 4300 of our citizens. Key takeaways from the survey include:
Nearly equal portions of surveys were received from Freeland, Langley, and Clinton.
70% marked the need for a public pool to be a “high priority.”
75% of responders said they would use a public pool that met their interests at least once a week.
The top four interests for pool programming were:
Recreational open swims
Lap swimming for fitness and wellness
Group exercise in water for fitness and wellness
90% of those surveyed indicated an interest in aquatic therapy if they were in need of physical therapy or rehabilitation services.
The Foundation hired Ballard*King and Associates, specialists in recreational facilities planning and operations, to analyze the survey data and recommend the best plan for moving forward. Read more details about the survey here.
Lessons Learned from the Past
This project has been in the works for a long time. After a failed bond measure in 2008, we engaged deeply with our community and learned from their feedback. As a result, we’ve re-tooled the project, with a vision that is more focused, appropriately scaled, and meets the diverse needs of our community. We also heard loud and clear that we need to be more resourceful in seeking funding from a variety of public and private sources. Since 2008, we have:
Created the non-profit South Whidbey Parks & Aquatics Foundation and a public-private partnership between the Foundation and the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District. This partnership fosters efficient use of resources and strengthens community collaboration.
Hired an Executive Director for the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District with extensive aquatic management experience to assist with planning.
Engaged a national consulting firm in 2021 (funded by a private donation) that conducted feasibility studies, gathered public input, and outlined the schematic design and business plan.
Developed a new funding model that draws on multiple sources, reducing the level of investment needed by taxpayers.
Garnered support from local and state legislators, evidenced by the awarding of a $400,000 state supplemental budget appropriation in 2022.
Facility & Location
A multipurpose facility
We are committed to building an environmentally friendly, state of the art, well managed facility that is safe, welcoming, functional, and financially sustainable.
Elements of the facility are likely to include:
A community pool for lap swimming, competition, and family swim that is 25 yards long with 6 lanes.
A second pool that is warmer and more shallow, to be used for swim lessons, aquatic fitness, physical therapy, water aerobics, water walking, family swim and recreation.
Family fun events that would include removable pool inflatables, slide, open pool play periods, and party rentals.
Large opening doors from the pool to an outside patio to create an indoor/outdoor atmosphere.
The chosen site is at the entrance to the Community Park on Maxwelton Road in Langley on land already owned by the Parks District. It meets all of the following criteria for site selection:
Centrally located between population centers in Freeland, Clinton and Langley
On an Island Transit route
Near public schools
Close proximity to the highway
On Community Park property to reduce costs
Learn to Swim
High School Swim Team
Youth Swim Clubs
Masters Swim Team and Triathlon Training
Therapy and Rehabilitative Services
Parties, Entertainment and Community Functions
These programming needs, tailored to our South Whidbey population, will guide design decisions and the layout for the facility.
Aquatics programming continues to evolve, and you can expect to find creative and innovative programs to improve your health, wellness, and fitness every week in the facility schedule.
Family-based recreation programs
Water Safety Education Programs, to include: swim lessons, lifeguard training, general water safety, boater safety
Special-needs wellness and fitness programs
Scuba diving instruction
Stand Up Paddle-board lessons
Summer Day Camp programming for inclement-weather days
Specialized Sports Camps
Aquatic-related recreational programs
Local programming for clubs and teams
Status & Timeline
The Foundation/Parks District team has met and set the following goals.
2019 - 2020
visited neighboring facilities
interviewed managers of aquatic centers with similar demographics
collected feedback from national organizations/consultants
attended a national pool building conference.
Developed a preliminary plan that incorporates state of the art and energy efficient equipment, environmentally friendly building materials, and incorporates diverse programming.
Selected a site located on land owned by the Parks District.
Funded a septic and wastewater feasibility study.
Raised money to fund a professional feasibility study.
Hired consulting group to execute feasibility study.
Hired Ballard*King and Associates with assistance from Patano Architecture and Aquatic Design Group
Community survey completed
Market analysis portion of feasibility study confirmed an aquatic facility is feasible
Operational plan (programming, revenue and cost projections)
ROM (rough order of magnitude) costing estimate
Large Onsite Sewage System (LOSS) planning: Hamer Environmental completed critical areas and wetland report of proposed site
Ongoing investigation into private, public grants, and government appropriations.
Hired Linda Kaye Briggs for fundraising feasibility study.
Ballard*King and Associates feasibility completed.
Awarded $400,000 from the state supplemental budget.
Selecting architectural/engineering firms to move ahead with facility design.
Completing fundraising feasibility study with Linda Kaye Briggs of The Briggs Group.
Ongoing investigation into private, public grants, and government appropriations.
Selected local architectural firm, Architect Resource Collaborative (ARC) to lead a team of engineers, aquatic experts and cost estimators to design the facility.
Public bond measure November 2023
Voter education campaign
Public and private grant campaign
Ongoing planning and design by ARC and team.
Private capital campaign
public and private grant campaign
Issue bid documents
We are successfully reaching out to our community, and our project is supported by a multitude of local organizations, businesses, politicians, and government bodies. Here are some of our supporters:
State Representative, Dave Paul
State Representative, Clyde Shavers
State Senator, Ron Muzzall
South Whidbey School District
Langley City Council
North Whidbey Pool, Park and Recreation District
Port of South Whidbey
Island County Economic Development Council
Melanie Bacon, District 1 Island County Commissioner
South Whidbey Commons
South Whidbey Youth Connection
Whidbey Island Kayaking
Senior Services of Island County
South Whidbey Youth Soccer Club
Masters and youth swim team coach
Island County Board of Health
The District and the Foundation are planning to fund the project with a combination of private and public funding sources.
$35k for professional feasibility study of project-->achieved in 2020.
$40-$50k for fundraising feasibility study-->achieved in 2021.
$400k for architectural/engineering plans—->achieved in 2022.
Short term funding objectives for first quarter 2023:
$1.3M to complete site preparation and infrastructure work, including wastewater, stormwater, and septic systems, electrical and water supply, and wetland mitigation.
Like other public aquatic facilities in Washington State, funding for construction, ongoing operations, and maintenance will require South Whidbey Parks and Aquatics Foundation and South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District to secure funds from a combination of public and private sources.
Stay tuned for more information about our fundraising efforts.
Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States and a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity (1). It has been called the perfect exercise. After all, you can get all of the benefits of an aerobic workout without the damaging impact on joints, and it can be done by all ages, from the very young to the very old. It is utilized by athletes to stay strong and keep fit when recovering from injury. It improves muscle definition and strength, builds up bone mass (2, 3), helps you stay flexible, reduces inflammation (4, 5), reduces stress and depression (6, 7), and can lengthen your life (8, 9). Water-based exercise can help people with chronic diseases (4, 10), and can benefit older adults by improving the quality of life and decreasing disability (11).
A Life Saving Skill
On Whidbey Island we are surrounded by water. Swimming is not just a recreational activity, it is also a life saving skill. For children, knowing how to swim reduces the likelihood of drowning by a whopping 88%.
DID YOU KNOW...
The goal of swim lessons is to make children SAFER in, on, and around water.
Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%. This statistic is even more impressive than that of seatbelts, attributed to reducing toddler fatalities by 54% percent, according to the CDC.
79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little to no swimming ability.
Research shows 64% of African-American, 45% of Hispanic/Latino, and 40% of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability.
10 people drown each day in the United States.