Gym, shelter rises


The Ka‘u District Gym and Shelter — a $16.9 million state-funded project — is taking shape in Pahala.

The 42,000-plus-square-foot facility is conservatively estimated at 24 percent complete with a good amount of concrete work and electrical and piping stub outs in place and vertical structural elements coming together at the site located on the grounds of the Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary School. Hawaii County Department of Public Works Deputy Director Brandon Gonzalez gave the project update Friday afternoon.

“We’re hoping for completion in spring 2014, May 2014,” he said. That jibes with the estimated completion date officials gave during the groundbreaking held in October 2012. Construction began in November 2012 and remains on budget.

The county is hoping for the spring completion because delays were incurred early on in construction, Gonzalez said. Shortly after starting, a burial site was found within a lava tube. Work was halted and the Department of Land and Natural Resources State Historic Preservation Division was notified of the discovery.

The county and the state subsequently worked out a burial treatment plan, which involved sealing the tube’s intake to protect the burial in place and having work around the burial site monitored by a state archaeologist, Gonzalez said.

Despite the delay, the project remains on time thanks to contractor Summit Construction working hard to make up the lost time to keep on schedule, Gonzalez said.

“The good thing is we discovered it in the beginning,” he added.

The county Parks and Recreation Department will manage the facility, which will be used jointly by the school and community. Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary School will use the facility for physical education classes, school functions, assemblies and athletic team practices and games, Gonzalez said. The facility will also be available for youth sport use as well as community functions.

The $16.9 million state capital improvement project funded facility is being built on 5 acres of state property makai of the existing school gymnasium. Funding for the project was first appropriated by the state Legislature in 2009, however, former Gov. Linda Lingle did not release it. The funding was re-appropriated and released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in fall 2011.

The facility, which includes an auxiliary building, will comprise athletic courts, recreation and multipurpose rooms, restrooms, lobby, concession area, storage rooms, a locker and shower room and an athletic training room. It will feature three NCAA regulation size courts and satisfy all requirements for Big Island Interscholastic Federation basketball and volleyball games.

Many areas of the facility, totalling nearly 29,000 square feet, will serve as an emergency and congregate shelter, if needed, capable of serving a maximum 1,928 people. The facility is being built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

In addition to emergency and congregate shelter, some 4,474 square feet, comprising two rooms, is dedicated as “vog shelter.” A maximum 317 people would be able to use the rooms when needed. Both will include air filtration systems to provide shelter from sulfur dioxide emissions. Only one, capable of holding 192 people, will be air-conditioned, according to the project’s final environmental assessment.