Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The swimming pool at Makiki District Park includes
an access point for the physically challenged. The
pool appears ready for use, but city officials
say some work still is needed.

Makiki public pool
still not open

The councilman who proposed it
says the mayor is delaying
its opening on purpose

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Robin Bush first saw the sign announcing the construction of a swimming pool at Makiki District Park three years ago.

"A lot of people in the community are really excited about having the pool open so we can use that recreational resource," Bush said.

But Bush is still waiting.

Blame Mayor Jeremy Harris, says Makiki City Councilman Andy Mirikitani.

Mirikitani said he has been told the mayor is waiting for him to be sent to prison before opening the swimming pool at Makiki District Park -- a project Mirikitani proposed.

Carol Costa, the mayor's spokeswoman, said the $2.4 million pool is not ready to be opened because it is still in the hands of the contractor, not because of any political considerations.

Mirikitani is to be sentenced Dec. 4 after being found guilty by a federal jury of receiving kickbacks from two aides in return for bonuses. At that point he would lose his office.

When it comes to the pool, it is the public, Mirikitani said, who is worse off as a result.

"Clearly all the families, children and senior citizens are being deprived of the use of the pool," he said.

Mirikitani and Harris were both on hand when ground was broken for the project in September 1999.

The 25-yard, eight-lane pool is located between the arts-and-crafts building and the tennis courts, just Ewa of the community garden.

The pool was first filled with water in September, and Mirikitani said he sees no reason for it to remain closed.

Mirikitani said this is not the first time Harris has avoided him, noting that the Pawaa Park on Young Street has not had an official opening.

"The Pawaa Park is another example of a major park that has been completed that for some reason has not yet had a grand-opening dedication ceremony," Mirikitani said.

"The mayor is running for governor and obviously is trying to get as much publicity as he can, oftentimes at the expense of others who are actually responsible for the projects and initiatives."

Mirikitani said he initiated the funding for both the park and the pool, adding that Harris initially opposed construction of the pool.

Costa said the contractor has not yet turned the facility over to the city because it is going through a "punch list" of work that needs to be completed. She declined to give specifics. She also declined to give an estimated opening date.

Mirikitani's staff also asked in September why the pool was not yet open.

City officials said a backwash tank that would be able to clean the pool filter system effectively needed to be enlarged. Additionally, the city decided to add sidewalks between the parking lot and pool, as well as nonslip coating for the pool bathrooms, Mirikitani's staff was told.

"Whatever finishing touches that need to be done should have been completed in a week many months ago," Mirikitani said.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin