KAILUA-KONA — The Kona Community Aquatic Center is slated reopen to the public today following a lengthy over-the-summer closure.
“We want to say thank you to all the swimmers, all the athletic teams, all the kids that couldn’t swim in the pool all this time, all the seniors, all the people that missed their exercise classes,” Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Director Roxcie Waltjen said last Thursday. “We really appreciate your understanding and your patience in holding hands with us and going through this whole ordeal.”
The pool, which is Hawaii County’s most used aquatic facility, has been shuttered to the public since the March 1 failure of its sand filtration system that keeps the water clean in both the adult Olympic-size and smaller keiki pools. It was the first such failure since the pool opened in April 1994.
The closure left swimmers, swim teams, and other pool users either high and dry or traveling to other pools or the ocean. One of the swim teams that calls the aquatic center home, the Kona Dolphin Swim Club, has been moving from the ocean at Kailua Pier to Konawaena Pool to the pool at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea. The youth swim team’s head coach, Joyce Follis, said Thursday they can’t wait to get home.
“We’re so stoked to be back in the pool. No more shark at the 1.2-mile buoy,” Follis said about swimming in the ocean. “I’m so excited for a controlled, safe environment.”
As it was before the shutdown in March, the pool will be open seven days a week, with a closure mid-day for staff lunch breaks as well as cleaning of the facility’s restrooms and testing of the pool’s water. Between July 2018 and February, an estimated 118,000 people used the facility.
“Because the pool is so heavily used, during the break we need to check to make sure we have the right chemistry in there otherwise we will have people getting sick,” said Waltjen, “and we don’t want that.”
Effective upon reopening there will remain two swim sessions per day. On weekdays, Monday through Friday, session one will run 6:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and session two will be 2 to 6:45 p.m. On weekends, the sessions will run 8:15 to 11:35 a.m. and 1 to 4:45 p.m.
Aquatic Solutions Hawaii was awarded the $243,550 contract to replace the filter system and conduct other repairs.