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Monday, May 17, 2004



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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The swimming pool at Palolo Valley District Park will remain closed because new tiles will not stick.


Palolo steamed over
pool problem

Repair delays keep the community pool
closed, which angers many residents




CORRECTION

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The city pools at Kaneohe, Kanewai and Booth parks reopened last week after being delayed for several months. A story on page A3 yesterday incorrectly stated that they reopened in March.



The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.


For arthritis sufferer Carolyn Walther, the neighborhood swimming pool was just about the only place she ever got a painless workout.

So when the Palolo Valley District Park's Olympic-sized pool shut down for repairs more than seven months ago, along with three other city pools, Walther was left with few options for exercise.

In March, a month behind schedule, pools at Kanewai, Booth and Kaneohe parks were reopened. But Palolo's pool is expected to remain closed until mid-June because its new tiles won't stick.

And that angers many Palolo residents, including Walther, who use the pool for exercise or send their kids there to stay out of trouble and escape the valley's heat.

"I know that there are many other folks that have arthritis that do go to the (Palolo) pool to exercise," said Walther, who added that going to another area pool is difficult because both her income and mobility are limited. "I should be exercising."

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said officials are "working aggressively" to get the pool opened in time for the June 23 start of the city's Summer Fun program, which includes a number of pool-related activities.

Some 200 kids from the Palolo Homes housing complex are enrolled in the program, said the apartments' manager, Dahlia Asuega. Dozens more children and teens use the pool for recreation.

"You hardly see the parking lot empty" in the summer, said Asuega, who is also a Palolo resident. "It's just upsetting that our community here has to be put on hold because of a construction error."

Colin Leong, of KD Construction Inc., said work to repair the Palolo pool will start again Wednesday and he expects the job to be complete by June 15.

After that, the city still has to approve the work. Costa declined to say when the pool was expected to reopen.

"We certainly understand the desire of the community to get (the pool) open," she said. "But the city cannot accept substandard work."

Leong's company got the city contracts to resurface Palolo pool and those in the three other neighborhoods. The faulty resurfacing work was done by KD subcontractor A-1 Construction, Leong said.

All four pools A-1 Construction worked on have encountered problems, which is what has caused the reopening delays.

Leong said that originally the city wouldn't accept A-1's work at any of the pools. But after an expert from Arizona was brought in to evaluate the construction sites, the city decided to accept all but the Palolo pool.

"These are very old pools," Leong said, adding that the Palolo pool was over 30 years old. "You don't just redo a pool and don't have problems."

At Palolo Homes yesterday, Sara Baird was cooking with her 1-year-old daughter and missing the water therapy she used to do at the Palolo pool to ease her bad back and lose weight.

"It's been really tough," she said. "I can't get down to the other pools."

Nearby, Emily Ngo was walking to her apartment with friends and fanning away the afternoon's stagnant air.

"It's hot," Ngo said, with a scowl on her face and sweat on her brow. "And we can't go" to the pool.

Palolo Neighborhood Board Secretary and Treasurer Michael Weinstein said he has been working with the city for months to speed up the pool's reopening.

"By our next meeting (in July), supposedly we'll have a pool," he said.

His wife, Marsha Meckler, is less optimistic.

"I am mourning for the closure of Palolo pool," said Meckler, who has been using the pool since 1990. "I am beside myself."

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