Will the Sumner pool go or stay? The answer’s in: it’s going to stay and be under new management.
The Sumner School District board of directors voted 3-2 to enter a management agreement with Sumner/Bonney Lake Aquatics. The agreement allows for a five-year contract, reviewable for continuation in April of each year.
SBLA is a pool management company run by Diana Ekstrom, whose credits include present head coach of the Sumner High School girls water polo team, the 2002-09 head coach for Sumner’s competitive swim team, and a head age group coach with the South Sound Titans from 2001 to May 27 of this year. She also runs Ekstrom’s Swim Program in Buckley.
Ekstrom updated the news feed on her website, Ekstrom’s Swim Program, just two hours after the board meeting with an entry publicizing the voted-in agreement. She also wrote The Courier-Herald, saying she was happy about the conclusion.
“I am very happy and excited to keep this pool open,” she wrote Friday morning. “I believe everyone needs to learn how to swim. I plan to bring programs for all ages back to the pool for the Sumner and Bonney Lake communities.”
Ekstrom will offer lap swim and water exercise – like aerobics and water walking – in the early morning, afternoon and evening, she wrote. Swim lessons for both children and adults will be in the mornings and evenings, and pool parties will be available on Saturdays. Her plan also offers special programs for home school students during the day.
SBLA’s management was one of two options considered by the board one month prior. The other option would have entailed busing swimmers to the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way for practice. The estimated cost of third party management is greater than that of busing, a comparative cost of $90,000 to $38,000, though board director Jeff DeMarre, an electrical engineer, reiterated that he believed the pool’s utility costs had been overestimated by as much as $40,000.
DeMarre and Rick Hendricks were each selected at the July meeting for a committee to decide how to proceed on the pool’s future. Both stated they were impressed with Ekstrom’s business plan.
Part of her plan includes future intent to establish nonprofit status, school board member Sherm Voiles said. Bonney Lake Aquatics does not have federally recognized nonprofit status yet, though lacking formal status does not bar an organization from acting as a nonprofit, he said.
Greg Hanon and Mike Pavlik voted against the agreement, Hanon on the basis of liability coverage as written in the contract, and Pavlik for his stated disappointment that Sumner and Bonney Lake municipal governments had not stepped up to assist the district on the issue.
“I hope it passes, but I won’t vote for it,” Pavlik said.