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Summer heats up interest in water feature

An online group ‘IslandMoms’ lobbies park officials for a new outdoor splash.

Summer has heated up efforts to bring back an outdoor water area on the island.

Recently, island moms meeting online and the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District board have touched on a growing public desire for an outdoor aquatic area.

“I have sent emails to the board members of (the park district) and I have received some positive feedback,” said Kathleen Martens, a Bainbridge mother who is spearheading the effort for an outdoor water area. The response seems to be that they are interested. Now we need to come up with a proposal.”

Martens, a member of an online group known as “IslandMoms,” has started a petition and is leading a four-person committee to assess the viability of an outdoor water area on the island.

The idea came about in February when fellow IslandMoms member Carissa Barbee expressed dismay that the island, and most of the Kitsap Peninsula, lacked access to public outdoor pools.

The IslandMoms effort is the latest attempt to bring back an outdoor water area since the 2005 closure of the “spray pool” at Battle Point Park.

That feature, which sprayed water as high as 20 feet and could output 30,000 gallons of water in two hours, had design flaws that wouldn’t allow for adequate drainage or water filtration. Those problems were coupled with ongoing public misuse.

“We were having dogs playing in it, and kids coming over from the dirt field and the hockey rink and showering in it after games,” said Terry Lande, park district executive director. “I mean, who wouldn’t do that, it’s refreshing.”

However, the misuse and inadequate filtration system was enough to draw the attention of Kitsap County health officials.

“The Health District wrote us a letter and said you either have to treat the system or rebuild it,” said Lande. “That was cost prohibitive, so we complied the only way we could, by shutting it down.”

Past failures and potential costs have not stopped IslandMoms’ members from envisioning the future of an island with an outdoor aquatic area.

“We’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that we’re not looking for a full sized outdoor pool,” said Martens. “But we will have to make a survey before we think about where this might happen and what it will look like.”

The four-person committee, headed by Martens, is meeting next month to create a community questionnaire that will gauge broader public interest and input.

The questionnaire will most likely be available online, at the aquatic center and at schools around the island.

Lande said there is already a good option of placing a water feature on the eastern outdoor deck of the Ray Memorial pool.

The proximity of the feature to both pool facilities would solve many of the problems the Battle Point feature ran into with water filtration and access.

If the feature was to go in near the current aquatic facility it would most likely be enclosed to guard against misuse.

“That is the most logical place to put it because we already have two large pools on site where the water is being treated,” Lande said. “There is a group on the island that would like to see that happen We would like to see that happen, but there is no inexpensive solution to it.”

“So far the people we’ve talked to have not been too concerned about costs,” said Martens, who discussed forming a non-profit to fund the venture. “For now we need to put together some information, account for things like costs and let the (park board) look at it, but we want to take our time to do this right.”

Park officials are hoping the group of island parents will come up with a functional and cost-effective way to approach the project.

“I am certain it would be a hit,” said Lande. “I mean where would you rather be right now, down getting sprayed with a water hose or sitting in an office?

“Every kid in the country would rather be at a spray park right now.”

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Pooling resources

The petition for an outdoor pool on Bainbridge can be viewed or signed at www.petitiononline.com/outdrpl/petition.html. The IslandMoms group can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Islandmoms/

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