Drainage issues further delay use of Kuawa ball fields

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The Kuawa park ballfields remain closed Friday in Hilo.

The long-delayed opening of new ball fields in Hilo is being set back indefinitely after an engineering report identified drainage problems.

Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Roxcie Waltjen said French drains will need to be installed under a multiuse field that’s part of the $3.36 million facility on Kuawa Street between Kamehameha Avenue and the Ho‘olulu Complex. Waltjen said she doesn’t know when the park — which can accommodate baseball, football, rugby and soccer games — will be ready for use, but she knows it won’t be this year.

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“I’m really sorry,” she said. “We really want to get kids out there. We want to open it up.”

Construction broke ground about two years ago and initially was expected to be complete in October 2016. Soil contamination and weather delays pushed completion to about spring 2017. But park officials then found grass not growing in as well as expected, in part due to the drainage problems. Waltjen said the multiuse field wasn’t built with a “crown,” or high spot, which exacerbates the drainage issue. She said the field will need to be at least partially torn up to install the drains and grass will have to be replanted.

She said the baseball diamond also has ponding problems that need to be addressed.

Waltjen expects her own staff to install the drains to help reduce additional costs.

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The report was done by SSFM International, which received a $316,570 contract to design the facility. Waltjen said the report was covered by the contract.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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