Construction of Ka‘u gym hits another roadblock

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It may be another nine months before the long-gestating Ka‘u District Gym and Shelter is complete, according to Hawaii County Public Works Director Warren Lee.

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It may be another nine months before the long-gestating Ka‘u District Gym and Shelter is complete, according to Hawaii County Public Works Director Warren Lee.

The 43,300-square-foot community gym and emergency shelter in Pahala broke ground in October 2012 and immediately began running into roadblocks, Lee said.

“When we started off with the project, the contract completion date was going to be late 2014. But even before the contractor got on the site, there were some things that had to do with a burial site slightly above the gym area that had to be taken care of,” he said. “After that, they found a lava tube, and when that happens you need to investigate that. Once it’s cleared of any archaeological features you can move on.”

The latest holdup involves problems with the concrete floors that were poured by contractor Summit Construction, he said.

“Right now, there are issues with the concrete floor that need to be resolved,” Lee said.

Holes that were drilled into the moisture barrier below where the wood decking of the gym floor is supposed to be installed appear to have problems, so the contractor is going back over the project. Otherwise, moisture could seep under the floor and create termite problems.

“We had hoped it would have been ready for the (May 29) graduation, but it’s important for us to make sure that what is built meets the construction requirements,” he said. “This facility is going to be used by kids and serves as a shelter during times of natural disaster and post-natural disaster. That’s our job, to make sure it’s safe.”

Lee estimated that the project could be complete some time in early 2016.

The $16.9 million state-funded project will be managed by the county Parks and Recreation Department and it will be used jointly by the school and community. Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary School will use it for physical education classes, school functions, assemblies and athletic team practices and games. It also will be available for youth sport use as well as community functions.

The facility sits on 5 acres of state property makai of the existing school gymnasium. Funding for the project was first approved by the Legislature in 2009 but was then held back by former Gov. Linda Lingle. The money was later re-appropriated and released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in fall 2011.

The structure includes an auxiliary building, as well as athletic courts, recreation and multipurpose rooms, restrooms, lobby, concession area, storage rooms, a locker and shower room and an athletic training room. It will feature three NCAA regulation-size courts.

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Approximately 29,000 square feet of the building also will serve as an emergency shelter, serving up to 1,928 people. It is being built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaii tribune-herald.com.

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