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SARC board votes for closure

by Lois Krafsky-Perry
for Citizen Review

Sequim, WA – Thursday, October 22, 2015 – Although twenty four members of the girls high school swim team begged for time, the board voted to close the pool facility, Friday, October, 30th.

Approximately 150 people packed the meeting room, of the City hall, and people also gathered, in the hallways. Many attendees spoke in favor of keeping the facility open and two people suggested the board resign.

Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) formed  under  Clallam County Parks and Recreation District #1, was opened, in the Spring, of 1988.

The real estate has been assessed by their insurance company, for $5.5  million.  It cost $100,000 for property purchase and $2 million to build the pool in 1985-1987.

The people voted for the facility and paid property taxes to Clallam County for more than 12 years. It later became self-sustaining, as promised to the voters, in the first election.

Many citizens have blamed  the extra building programs and the purchase of the $85 thousand slide, which is used only when an extra guard can be on duty.  It is opened for a short amount of time, during the evenings and also weekends.

Now, the facility is in financial trouble and is to be closed.

SARC has approximately 76 employees, many of whom are teens, who also attend high school.
Anita Benitz, Sequim High School swim team coach, representing the 24 girls in attendance, said the school  had paid $7,500 (for the year) and said they need until November 12th to practice for the upcoming swim meet. “Our relay team is better than ever, and these 16 girls are planning on going. Can you help us?” she asked.

Swim team Captain Victoria Fitzpatrick pleaded for more time and said, “We want to succeed and SARC not to be taken away from us.”

Many people have offered suggestions to help the facility over the past few months, and even considered a non-profit.  Ideas for donations and volunteers have also offered their ideas.

Paul McHugh and Bill Black, former SARC board members, encouraged the board to resign.

McHugh said, “A decision has pretty well been made, with the first bunch of options; maybe it is too late.”  He referred to a previous meeting (August) where many suggestions were offered.  At that time, it was decided by the board that the facility would remain open until September 2016.  Many people bought new memberships.  The board then cut hours, causing many people to leave and exercise at other local facilities.

McHugh  thanked the board and said,” To restore faith, we  need different and new thinking and leadership.”  He then recommended that the board resign.

“What we are facing tonight is not new,” announced Black. He then reviewed past history.  He had read through paperwork from former (now deceased) board member Annette Kuss.  He reiterated her vision for SARC –  that the facility would become self-sustaining.  “Obviously that did not happen,”affirmed Black. He then said he agreed with McHugh that the board should resign.

This is predictable, the numbers continually go down, a lack of planning—predictable for years.” Black said.  He continued, “This board and predecessors have chosen to do nothing.  This board should resign en masse.” announced Black.

“We need short term help,” urged Pickering, who wants to accommodate  the swim team with another two weeks of practice time.

Tracy Swanson asked what had happened to the YMCA survey. (The YMCA  had sent a survey and, according to a representative, said the results would be available soon.)

“My hands are tied with the motion I am about to make,” said the board chairman, Frank Pickering.  The board then agreed and the motion carried to close the pool on October 30th.

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