Fans of the Bainbridge High School water polo team should feel like they are walking on water.
After being reprimanded by the school district, they approached the parks district on Thursday in an attempt to stay afloat, only to be reprimanded again.
After a long discussion, Dawn Janow, President of the Parks Board said, “Do you talk to the school district so that you can be sanctioned. “
They were. The Bainbridge Island School District refuses to call water polo a school sanctioned sport, calling it a club instead.
For more than 35 years, water polo teams have been able to use the swimming pools for free. But since BISD decided in 2017 that it was a club, it now has to pay for the use of the pool, Parks executive director Terry Lande said.
“No one 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 used our land they would pay for it,” Lande said, adding that the school district has no supervision, water polo is not covered by the park’s agreement with the high school to use the. free installations.
Ruth Baydo and Raelene Rossert spoke on behalf of the water polo team.
Baydo said the team have never been charged and nothing has changed. She said the city was waiving some fees for other club sports.
Rossert said the park district’s own policy states that any team that plays interschool would not be charged. She said the park district could waive the fee if the club is operated by a non-profit organization. “No matter what the high school says, you could probably find out that we are ‘eligible for a fee waiver,’ she said.
Rossert said legally water polo could be called a club, but the intention of the deal with the high school is for everyone to have fair use of the pool during their sporting season. She said the school and the park district have a responsibility to “make it go 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 pair were also upset because the water polo team learned they would not be billed this year and then had 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 the pool costs,” Baydo said.
Lande said the school district “has been playing with this for quite some time,” but since water polo pays its own coaches, has its own insurance and nothing is run by the school, it is a club sport. . This raises a liability issue for the parks because it is not covered in the contract with the school district.
And it’s not like the water polo team didn’t know this was coming, he said, adding that he had been aware of pool costs for a few years.
Later in the meeting, Commissioner Jay Kinney questioned whether the board should take a decision on the matter in an official capacity. However, he said parks staff need to have some autonomy as the council cannot step in every time someone complains. “If we had to guess the staff, we would have a big mess on our hands,” he said. He added that the board may need to establish a policy on club sports billing.
Gathering of park staff
Lande said staff are currently undergoing extensive training and are working on a smooth transition at Bainbridge Island Recreation Center, formerly the BI Athletic Club. “Everything is tracked differently,” and there is new software to be learned, he said.
Bryan Garoutte, recreation superintendent, said 722 people used the facility in its first week. There are six personal trainers and 10 instructors, and they are looking for more staff to add even more classes. “Most of our classes are full,” he said, “with people happy to be back in the gym” after it closed for the transition.
He said about 500 children participate in soccer, as well as 80 adults in another league. He also said a pottery class made trays for the Hitchcock restaurant.
Mark Benishek, director of recreation, said the first full week of the parks district programming is underway with most classes full with waiting lists. He hopes to add more classes with people from those lists.
Regarding community events, he said he hopes to expand the summer concert series next year. The Haunted Hayride will be the same as last year due to COVID-19 with a drive-thru format. He said Holiday at Fay will also be compatible with COVID.
At the aquatic center, Benishek said the swim team is growing and has a waiting list, as does the adult team of 150 members. Due to a lack of lifeguards, the pool is closed for two hours during the slower hours of the afternoon.
In other news
The parks board also passed a resolution allowing district employees and their families with children 19 and under to use the BI Recreation Center free of charge. “This is a tremendous benefit for our employees,” said Janow.
The parks board also approved easements for two trails – Koura / Yukio and Bolero. The first will cost $ 17,000 for trail improvements. The other was given entirely.
Commissioner Ken DeWitt said of the founding of the parks on the first, they “worked long and hard on it. It wasn’t the easiest bondage to do.
To wrap up, Kinney said that when considering an off-leash dog park in Pritchard Park, the district needs to check with people who live along the nearby shoreline, as they may not want to.