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StarBulletin.com

Dillingham Fountain has lingering ills


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POSTED: Thursday, December 04, 2008

  Question: The beautiful and much-beloved fountain near the Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue has been empty and shut down since July. A member of our neighborhood board told me a few months ago that the 2006 refurbishment of the fountain was botched, and some parts had to be replaced, but it's unclear why this should take five months! I have e-mailed the Parks Department but received no reply. Can you help?

Answer: We can tell you why Dillingham Fountain is not always functioning, but there's no easy answer as to why the problem can't be fixed once and for all.

The problem is that whatever material is used to resurface and seal the fountain just hasn't worked.

At this point the contractor and parks staff are stymied as to what to do, said Lester Chang, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

He said it's not correct or fair to say the repair job last year was "botched," and also said that the fountain has not been completely shut down since July.

We reported on the fountain's problems three times in 2007. The fountain, shut down in 2006 for months for repairs, finally reopened in February 2007. But it was shut down again two days later because vandals had tossed detergent into the water. A cleanup uncovered damaged water jets, a broken pipe and broken rods.

Repairs were made, but then the contractor encountered problems with repeated blistering and bubbling of the paint used on the silicone surface of the fountain. On April 4, 2007, we reported that if no new problems surfaced, Dillingham Fountain would be up and running "shortly."

However, it turned out that the bubbling problem never went away.

"We've tried many repairs," Chang told us this week. "The contractor is still figuring out what's going on."

The fountain has been shut down "on and off," according to Chang, since July because water was leaking.

"We're looking at all kinds of alternatives" as to what to do with the fountain - "not just trying to fix it," he said. If it comes down to a major overhaul, the cost could be prohibitive.

"We don't want to give up yet," Chang said.

For now the cost of the repair work is being borne by the contractor.

The Walter and Louise Dillingham Foundation gave the fountain to the city in 1966.

Q: I live on Namahana Street in Waikiki. There is a condominium going up nearby, and the crews make so much noise from early in the morning. One day, they ran a jackhammer and large compressor from about 6:30 a.m. Isn't there some kind of ordinance or law regarding the noise and the timing?

A: Yes, there are noise constraints for construction activity, including not starting before 7 a.m., according to the state Department of Health's Indoor and Radiological Health Branch.

The branch includes a noise section.

Crews also are not supposed to begin using jackhammers until later than 7 a.m., an official told us.

Call the noise section at 586-4700 for more information or to file a complaint.