JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nine-year-old Mack Tawa went for a forehand Thursday afternoon while hitting with his father, Dan, at the tennis complex in Central Oahu Regional Park. An audit of the facility found cost overruns, missed deadlines and poor design.
Tennis complex cost overruns detailed
The final price to construct the tennis complex at the city's Central Oahu Regional Park could exceed the original estimate by $2.5 million because the project was rushed and poorly managed, according to a city audit.
When then-Mayor Jeremy Harris asked the City Council to include the Waipio project in the city's fiscal year 2001 capital improvement budget, the estimated cost for the 20-court complex was $9.5 million. The city has paid out $11.5 million so far, and there is $1.28 million more the city can spend on the construction contract, which is still open, according to the report released yesterday by city Auditor Leslie Tanaka.
"For the amount of money they wasted over there, they could have fixed a lot of roads," said Tom Sugita, chairman of the city's tennis advisory council and a longtime critic of the previous city administration's handling of the project.
He said tennis players continue to suffer from the poor design and execution of the complex, such as gates that open the wrong way, net posts that are weak and rusting, and the placement of plants that shed leaves and flowers next to the courts.
"I blame everything on the Department of Design and Construction. They approved everything," Sugita said.
Current city Department of Design and Construction Director Eugene Lee said the cost of the complex cannot be determined until the contract is closed. He said the contract remains open because the city needs to settle a minor discrepancy with construction contractor Dick Pacific. However, he said there is no more physical work left to be done on the project.
The report said the city is withholding $323,844 from the contractor. Lee said the city is withholding only $260,844, or 2.5 percent of the contract, from the contractor until it is satisfied the terms of the contract are met.
Because of an aggressive and unrealistic time frame for completion, there were errors and omissions in the project's design, the report said.
The auditor estimates that administration requests for redesign, apparent errors and omissions and change-work requests during construction added $1.6 million to the cost of the project.
Construction started Nov. 1, 2001, and was supposed to be completed by April 30, 2002, after the Design and Construction Department approved a 30-day extension. The contractor turned the complex over to the city on Jan. 16, 2003, 7 1/2 months late and at a cost 24 percent higher than earlier estimates, yet did not incur penalties, the report said. The city held a grand opening in February 2003.
The Harris administration diverted money from the design contract of phase 2 of the project for the park's baseball fields, then, when it realized the project could run out of construction funds, transferred money budgeted for other capital projects without City Council approval, the report said.
"They were really masters at moving money around," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.
The administration transferred $110,000 set aside for miscellaneous repairs to parks in her district. It also transferred $400,000 budgeted for repairs to parks in Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall's district. "That could explain why some of the projects are taking so long or not getting done," Marshall said.
In a letter responding to the report and its recommendations, Lee said his department has policies and procedures in place to insure projects stay within budget and has stuck to them.