By MICHELLE BEAHM | Staff Writer
The South Kitsap Community Pool will be closed this August for maintenance.
The pool, located at the South Kitsap High School campus, has routinely closed for a couple weeks every year for cleaning and maintenance, but this year they are taking a different strategy.
Because of iron oxide in the water and some old, rusted valves that will be replaced as part of the repairs, the floor and walls of the pool have been stained a "tea-like color," said Tom O'Brien, director of facilities and operations for the South Kitsap School District (SKSD).
"We're going to line the pool with a new surface," O'Brien said. "We're also looking to try and paint the ceiling…to try and brighten the place up. We want to improve the visibility and light in there so people can really see what's going on in the water."
Sandy Rotella, the SKSD's chief financial officer, said that money will be pulled out of the district's reserve fund until the levy money comes in.
The recent levy had allotted money in the budget for these repairs, but the school district will not receive those funds until 2014, and so the school board declared the repairs to be "urgent" in order to be able to take money out of the reserves to pay for it. When the levy money is received, the money taken out of the reserves will be reimbursed.
The project will cost somewhere between $275,000 and $300,000 according to O'Brien.
Though classified as an "emergency" in order to be able to make the necessary repairs this year instead of next, the pool won't be closed until July 29 in order for the already scheduled summer swim classes to finish, which O'Brien said is very supervised, unlike a free-swim, and the students are staying mostly in the shallow end of the pool.
The local swim teams are most affected by this closure, and it means that they won't have a place to practice for the duration of the maintenance unless they can get permission from a nearby pool to use their facilities.
Girls swim team coach Cliff Rousell is working on finding another place to practice in August.
"I put out queries for water time for our ladies at the start of the season, but I've yet to receive replies on it," Rousell said. "We'll just wait for replies and see what happens."
Despite the inconvenience, Rousell is supportive of this extended closure.
"The reason for the closure is absolutely terrific," he said. "This is probably one of the biggest forward moving steps I've seen taken by maintenance in the last decade.
"I think it's a good thing. The closure itself is just a minor inconvenience. We'll find a way, as we have in the past, when we didn't have water."
Rousell said that the swim team will either find another pool to practice in, or change their workouts to land-based activities while the pool is closed.
"We're going to try to make things happen for the girls," he said. "But it's nice to see these steps being taken by maintenance."
This project was originally scheduled for next year, after the money from the levy came in, but the pool's insurance company wanted them to get it done sooner. The change in plan occurred in May.
"For projects like this, that's pretty quick," O'Brien said. "These projects take a long time to put together, and we're doing it pretty quick. I think anytime you're talking about the safety of children and patrons, you want to get the work done as quickly as possible.
O'Brien hopes the pool will be open again by the time school starts.
"By Sept. 4, we want to see kids swimming in the pool again," he said.