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Pool opens for summer with new schedule, solar-powered heat

The Vashon Pool, in its second season of management by the Vashon Park District, will open this weekend, and park district officials say swimmers will notice a few changes at the pool this summer. 

In an effort to ease the pool’s substantial energy costs, the district recently installed a solar-powered heater at the pool. Park district director Wendy Braicks said the purchase of the approximately $47,000 heater was made possible by a $23,000 grant the district received from Puget Sound Energy.

The heater will save the district about $6,000 a year in electricity costs, meaning it should pay for itself in about two and a half years, said district maintenance supervisor Tim Lafferty in a press release. 

“It’s going to save us money over the long run,” Braicks said. “That’s a good thing.”

There is also a new face at the pool this year. The district has hired Scott Bonney as the pool’s manager, Braicks said in a press release. An Islander with extensive background in aquatics and pool management, Bonney has already made some changes at the pool, such as reworking the staffing schedule. 

The pool’s schedule will also be a bit different this year, Braicks said. Based on feedback the park district received at the end of last summer, the schedule was reconfigured to allow for more and longer family swim times and open swim times. 

“We learned that the schedule was not well suited to our community” Braicks said. “So we changed it.”  

Last year the park district lost about $40,000 on the pool, in part due to start-up costs, one-time expenses and low attendance due to poor weather. The loss was covered by a $75,000 grant King County gave to the park district when the pool was transferred, anticipating that the district would take a loss in its first few seasons. 

This year the district’s board of commissioners voted to transfer $25,000 to pool’s budget to support its second season of operation, Braicks said. She hopes that support combined with nice weather will allow the pool to at least break even.

“We’re crossing our fingers for a nice, hot summer where everyone wants to swim,” she said.

 

— Natalie Johnson

 

 

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