Club urges BI Parks to stop pool fee


Bainbridge High School water polo team supporters must feel like they are stepping on the surface of the water.

After being reprimanded by the school district, they approached the park district Thursday to stay afloat, only to be reprimanded.

After a long discussion, Dawn Janow, chairwoman of the park, said, “Speak to the school district so you can be sanctioned.”

They were. The Bainbridge Island School District refuses to label water polo as a school-approved sport, instead calling it a club.

The water polo teams have been able to use pools free of charge for over 35 years. But since the BISD decided it was a club in 2017, it now has to pay to use the pool, said Terry Lande, the park’s executive director.

“Nobody knew what it was for 35 years,” said Lande of Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation.

Participants in club sports such as lacrosse, rowing and sailing all pay fees to their clubs, Lande said.

“If lacrosse were to use our field, they would pay for it,” Lande said, adding that water polo is not covered by the park’s agreement with the high school to use the facilities for free because the school district has no oversight.

Ruth Baydo and Raelene Rossert spoke on behalf of the water polo team.

Baydo said the team was never charged and nothing has changed. She said the city is exempting some fees for other club sports.

Rossert said the park district’s own guidelines state that any team that plays interschool will not be charged. She said the park district could waive the fee if the club is run by a nonprofit organization. “No matter what the high school says, you could probably find that we are eligible for a fee waiver,” she said.

Rossert said water polo could legally be called a club, but the intent of the agreement with the high school is for everyone to have equal access to the pool during their sports season. She said that it is the responsibility of the school and park district to make sure that this “goes away” not just for this year, but from now on.

Rossert said the water polo team has a meeting with the school board next week to continue discussions about being a team or club sport.

The couple were also upset when the water polo team was told they would not be billed this year and then told they would have to pay half of the $ 12,000 originally billed.

Lande said the team was misinformed and it was an honest mistake.

“We have already reimbursed our families for pool fees,” said Baydo.

Lande said the school district “has been playing around with it for some time,” but since water polo pays its own coaches, has its own insurance and nothing is run by the school, it’s a club sport. This poses a liability problem for parks as it is not covered in the contract with the school district.

And it’s not that the water polo team didn’t know this was coming, he said, adding that it has been known about pool costs for a number of years.

Later in the session, Commissioner Jay Kinney wondered if the Board should approach the issue in an official capacity. However, he said that the park’s staff must have some autonomy as the board of directors cannot intervene every time someone complains. “If we questioned the staff, we’d be in a mess,” he said. He added that the board may need to establish a policy on burdening club sports.

Summary of the park staff

Lande said staff are currently undergoing a lot of training and working on a smooth transition at Bainbridge Island Recreation Center, the former BI Athletic Club. “Everything is tracked differently,” and there is new software to learn, he said.

Bryan Garoutte, recreation manager, said 722 people used the facility in the first week. There are six personal trainers and 10 instructors and they are looking for more staff to add even more courses. “Most of our classes are full,” he said, “with people happy to be back at the gym” after it closed due to the transition.

He said around 500 children are participating in football, along with 80 adults in another league. He also said a pottery class made trays for the Hitchcock restaurant.

Leisure director Mark Benishek said the first full week of park district programming was underway, with most classes filled with waiting lists. He hopes to add more courses with people from these lists.

Regarding community events, he said he hoped to expand the summer concert series over the next year. The Haunted Hayride will be in a drive-through format like last year due to COVID-19. He said Holiday at Fay will also be COVID-friendly.

At the Aquatic Center, Benishek said the swim team is growing and has a waiting list, as is the adult team of 150 members. Due to a lack of lifeguards, the swimming pool is closed for two hours during the slowest times in the afternoon.

In other news

The park board also passed a resolution allowing district workers and their families with children under the age of 19 to use the BI Rec Center for free. “This is a great advantage for our employees,” said Janow.

The Parks Board also approved easements for two trails – Koura / Yukio and Bolero. The first costs $ 17,000 for trail improvements. The other was completely donated.

Speaking of the Parks Foundation for the first time, Commissioner Ken DeWitt said: “You have worked long and hard on this. It was not the easiest service to do. “

In conclusion, Kinney said that when considering an off-leash dog park in Pritchard Park, the district must check with the people who live along the nearby coast because they may not want to.


About Clayton Arredondo

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