Letters to the Editor

Sink pool

To the editor:

Barb and I wish to communicate our dissent regarding the upcoming vote on pool improvements.

There is no disagreement that a pool (or pools) in our community (open all 12 months) is a desirable thing. But, users should pay for the costs. That’s the way homeowners’ associations and private clubs operate.

We have an ethical issue with forcing our neighbors to pay for non-essentials. We understand that taxing the citizenry for essentials such as police, administration, schools, etc. is necessary. But swimming pools are in the non-essential category. Many of us have accepted the notion that a majority vote “wins the day” for many non-essentials. That view has no regard for citizens who don’t agree – like those who won’t be users of the pools, citizens who are having a difficult time “making ends meet,” and property owners whose main residence is not Bainbridge, but can’t even vote.

In this affluent community, there is plenty of private money to come up with $10 million. We strongly suggest user fees, private contributions or a combination of both.

Please be kind to your neighbor, and vote “no” for non-essentials.

Tom & Barb Hemphill

Pleasant Beach

Back pool

To the editor:

I am writing to express support for revitalizing our Ray Pool with additional lane space. As a retired head coach for Bainbridge Island Swim Club, a parent, and a BI resident I understand the importance of having community pools and the wide breadth of people these pools serve.

While my main focus at the pool is in providing a competitive program for children to develop competitive swimming skills and grow healthy habits for life, I have always been impressed by the many creative ways our pool is used for other programming. The aquatic center provides swim lessons for tiny tots through pre-swim team, masters swimming, water polo, diving, a variety of exercise classes, space for physical therapy, lifeguard classes, ferry worker training, and much more.

All of the programs at the aquatic center are limited by the space available to run them. Overcrowding and wait lists have been issues for years and are evidence that we need more space.

Aquatics programming is demanded by our community and serves people from early childhood through the elderly years. To continue to serve our growing community, it makes sense to more adequately provide space to do so.

Please join me in voting to approve Park District Proposition 1 Aug. 6.

Carolyn Ackerley


No on pool

To the editor:

The passage of Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District Proposition 1 is not required for renovations to the Ray pool. The district has committed to using reserves and loans to pay for that. The proposed $10 million bond is for two additional lanes and consistent 6.5-foot depth. However, they’ll use the bond revenue for expansion only “if the construction is financially feasible.” They don’t know the costs of the expansion, and the expansion will create more problems than it solves.

The district misunderstands the flexibility it has to avoid long pool closures, which could result in missed high school sports seasons and athletes losing valuable training opportunities. The district’s permit will be good for 180 days and renewable for at least 180 days. They aren’t prioritizing minimizing closures or impacts on pool users.

The expansion reduces a pool deck that is already too small for events. The district proposes that spectators remain outdoors or use the north deck, and to offer live-streaming based on lessons from COVID. Swim spectators on the north deck will be underneath the scoreboard, water polo spectators in the line of fire of shots traveling at 40-plus mph, outdoor spectators in winter weather, and nobody desires returning to COVID arrangements.

The expansion fails to address waitlists for swim lessons required to be in the warmer Nakata pool, water polo players getting home at 10 p.m. on school nights and crowded lanes.

Vote no on the bond while the community pursues the solution of a new aquatic facility.

Carol Nakhuda


Expand pool

To the editor:

I support the Bainbridge Aquatic Center pool bond measure to pay for upgrades to the Ray Williamson pool and add capacity by expanding the pool from six to eight lanes.

I’ve participated in aquatics programs starting at age 9 with the Bainbridge Island Swim Club followed by the high school swim team, and now with aquatic masters since 2008. I’ve been assistant coach for the BHS Girls Swim and Dive team for seven years and bring 30+ years of experience as a licensed massage therapist to the pool deck—where we coach kids to love swimming not just for competition, but also for the life skills they can use for years to come. The impacts of being on a team are as valuable to kids as winning titles, breaking records or securing scholarships. Our no-cut teams make that possible.

Student-athletes who might otherwise have been cut from a team because of limited pool capacity gain skills and resources to contribute to their communities and learn how to support their own wellness and self-care. Some of the most- impactful athletes I’ve interacted with are those who would most likely have been cut if our aquatics facilities did not have the capacity to support them safely.

Having the lane space needed to continue welcoming all who want to experience the values of swimming and teamwork is as important as helping those who may have the ability to compete or receive collegiate scholarships.

Shelley Blain Reimer