Damage caused by water leaking through the roof is evident in a room at the Ala Wai Community Center that Lori Nakatsuka, left, and Dennis Leong use for pottery classes.

Safety concerns
rise at Ala Wai site

Residents worry that deteriorating conditions
at a community center soon will result in injury

Manoa resident Lori Nakatsuka said she is afraid that the dilapidated ceiling at the Ala Wai Community Recreation Center will collapse.

"It's kind of scary," said Nakatsuka, who takes a ceramics class at the center. "I really worry about the ceiling falling."

Nakatsuka and other residents who use the center are worried about safety because of the disrepair of the cedar shake roof and other areas of the community center that is also known as the Ala Wai Clubhouse.

"The building is actually falling down around us," said David Lemon, president of the Square Wheelers, a square dance club that uses the center.

Nakatsuka said she is worried that senior citizens might slip on large water puddles on the floor from the leaky roof. Parts of the ceiling have already fallen due to leaks and termites.

The center hosts a summer fun program for children and an array of classes, including aerobics for senior citizens, pottery, hula, bridge, kung fu and ukulele lessons.

David Lemon displays some of the weather-worn shingles that fell off the center. Leaks in the ceiling are a result of this.

The pottery and kiln rooms have suffered the most damage. Along with the ceiling damage, paint is peeling off the walls of the pottery rooms.

"My concern is the safety," said Nakatsuka. "I don't want anybody falling or getting sick."

Heavy rains in December and February have exacerbated the leak problems and also caused electrical short circuits in the lighting fixtures. Loose wooden shingles falling to the ground and cracks in the cement-bricked walls have also occurred.

An official with the city Department of Design and Construction did an assessment in mid-March and determined that the center needs "immediate work" to stop leaks.

"Basically the building needs to be re-roofed, the water damage elements (roof sheathing, ceilings, walls, electrical system, etc.) need to be repaired, renovated or replaced," stated Tony Macawile in a letter to the Facilities Division. Cost to replace the entire roof in addition to other repairs was estimated at more than $300,000. He further stated that the center "most likely has hazardous building materials such as asbestos, lead paint and PCBs."

The Departments of Design and Construction and Parks and Recreation are asking for money for a master plan and design of a new facility in the fiscal year 2006 budget, according to city spokeswoman Carol Costa.

The recreation center at 2015 Kapiolani Blvd. was built in 1937 as a clubhouse for rowing clubs using the Ala Wai Canal. During World War II, it was used as a Navy Officers Club. The Navy turned over the property to the city in 1951, and it was converted into a community clubhouse. It was placed under the state's historic registry in June 1988.

Several years ago, a design project was developed to demolish the existing recreation center and build a two-story building for park users. But the proposed project was canceled because of neighborhood opposition, said Macawile.

Ron Lockwood, chairman of the McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board, said a meeting will be held at the recreation center at 3 p.m. on Oct. 6 to discuss short and long-term solutions for the center.

Officials from the Department of Design and Construction, Historic Preservation Division, ceramic students, dance clubs and canoe paddlers are expected to attend.



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