Kona pool repair cost lower than expected

  • The Kona Community Aquatic Center remains closed on Wednesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • The Kona Community Aquatic Center remains closed on May 22. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • A Hawaii County lifeguard watches swimmers at the Kona Community Aquatic Center in 2017. (Tom Hasslinger/West Hawaii Today, file photo)

KAILUA-KONA — A contractor has been hired to repair the Kona Community Aquatic Center, but county officials say the county pool facility will remain closed through the summer.

Honolulu-based Aquatic Solutions Hawaii LLC earlier this month was awarded a $243,550 contract to replace the sand filtration system and conduct other repairs to the facility, said Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina. The county previously estimated the work would cost taxpayers over $400,000.

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“We are pleased the bid came in lower than expected,” Messina said of the savings.

Aquatics Solutions Hawaii was the lowest of four bidders that vied for the contract to get operational the county pool facility. The highest bidder sought $431,000 for the work.

Kona Community Aquatic Center, located north of Kekuaokalani Gymnasium at Kailua Park, also known as Old Kona Airport Park, has been closed to the public since March 1 when the facility’s sand filters stopped operating. The filters are needed to keep the water clean in both the adult Olympic-size and smaller keiki pools.

A week later, on March 8, the department said the closure was expected to last six to seven months, or through at least September or October, because all of the sand filters had to be replaced as the pool’s current filter system didn’t allow for isolated repairs.

Messina said Thursday that Aquatic Solutions Hawaii per its contract with the county has 125 calendar days to complete the work from the date of the county’s issuance of a notice to proceed. That’s expected to happen by the end of this week.

The deputy director declined to provide a targeted date of completion, noting the county prefers to use the 125-day timeframe outlined in the contract.

However, 125 days from early June puts completion sometime in early October — around the same time thousands of athletes will flock to Kailua-Kona to compete in the Ironman World Championship set for Oct. 12.

Aquatic Solutions Hawaii will be furnishing and installing four new Start S-120 horizontal filter tanks for the large pool and one new Triton II Model TR140C filter for the keiki pool. Work also includes addressing valves, pressure gauges, and inlet and outlet piping.

At the same time, county staff will be repairing the hot-water heater, tiles, and other repairs to the facility as needed, he said.

Once that work is complete, Messina said Aquatic Solutions Hawaii will treat the pools with chemicals to restore to the water quality to county and state standards.

“Contractor will monitor both pools’ chemical levels until each pool reaches equilibrium at the desired pool water chemistry for a period of 30 days. Once the contractor completes this process and cleans and restores the facility to preexisting condition or better, the pool will open,” Messina said.

Prior to the shutdown in March, the county said the pool was its most used aquatic facility on the island. Between July 2018 and February, an estimated 118,000 people used the facility.

During the closure, the county has increased hours and staffing at Konawaena Pool, located about 12 miles away in South Kona.

“Everything has been going as well as can be expected with the increased hours and extra pool users,” Messina said of the 25-meter pool on the Konawaena High School campus.

Joyce Follis, head coach of Kona Dolphin Swim Club, said the team has seen a decrease in its numbers since the closure as the club now practices for the most part in the open ocean with the exception of weekend time secured at Konawaena Pool. All meets are currently being held at Kawamoto Swim Stadium in Hilo.

“Although we do not have the Kona Pool our athletes are still thriving and qualifying for Junior age group champs, state champs, senior champs, western zone champs and larger national level meets held in the mainland,” Follis wrote in an email. “It is a lot of work keeping them in shape to race kids on the mainland who have pools open year round and that practice 6-10 times a week for 2+ hours each practice but we have adapted and so have the athletes.”

The Kona Community Aquatic Center opened to the public in April 1999 at a cost of about $4 million.

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It brought to the North Kona community an Olympic-size swimming pool measuring 50 meters long by 25 yards wide with depth ranging from 4 feet to 12 feet; a 900-square-foot kids pool; accompanying showers and lockers rooms; and covered bleachers.

WHT sports editor JR DeGroote contributed to this report.

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