By Wendy Osher
Repairs to the Coach Soichi Sakamoto Pool in Wailuku continue, with re-opening tentatively set for June of 2013, barring any obstacles.
“We would really like to fix the Sakamoto Pool and get it functional; but I think anybody who has had to deal with an old facility will realize that the older the facility gets, the more complicated it is to fix it,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in an exclusive interview.
“Right now, we’re spending over $300,000 to do a mini-repair to the Sakamoto Pool. If we try to repair the entire pool, and were successful, we’d still have an old pool; and it would probably cost us several million dollars,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Mayor Arakawa continues to pursue a vision for a brand new aquatics complex at the old Swap Meet site in Kahului near the Salvation Army and Kahului Post Office.
“A swimming complex like Kihei or Lahaina has multiple pools so that when we have swimming events, you can have your warm ups, you can have several events going on at the same time, you can have multiple events that are occurring and multiple users, because it’s a complex, not just one pool,” said Mayor Arakawa.
County officials say current repairs to the Sakamoto Pool include work to fix re-bar and the concrete structure, as well as metal pieces that are starting to rust from within.
“Now you’re having to deal with working underneath concrete, working underneath existing structure–at the same time, you have to be working on them and hoping they don’t crack or fall apart on you while you’re trying to make repairs,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“Rather than spending a whole lot of money trying to repair a pool that will be still an old pool that’s not going to serve the community’s needs today, we feel that it’s much better to explore the possibility of a brand new complex.”
Arakawa envisions a facility that would include an area for little children, picnic facilities, more parking, and a facility away from the hustle and bustle of other activities and departments at War Memorial Complex.
The mayor called the cost “relative,” saying, “you can spend several million dollars in repairs to the old Sakamoto Pool–and it will still be the ‘old’ Sakamoto Pool. If you want to be able to improve it so that there’s much better function, then we need to get to a certain complex much like the Kihei or Lahaina Aquatic Centers, where you have multiple levels.
“Yes, it would cost us to be able to build that new, but we would be building to what the community needs are… and expanded needs in the next 25 to 50 years… rather than trying to fix something that is not meeting the needs of the community currently. Even with the best of what we might throw into there, it would still be an old complex,” said Arakawa.
Barring any obstacles, Arakawa says it’s going to be less than a year before the Sakamoto Pool is reopened to the public–with projections set around June 2013.
Other pools in the central Maui area that are available for the public include pools near the Kahului Pool near the Salvation Army, the Kokua pool at the Kahului Community Center, and the new and old Wailuku pools located across from Iao School at the corner of Market and Wells Street.
“Again we’re trying to fix a very old center in a sort of dilapidated situation–at the same time, we’re trying to look at what to do with the gym,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“when we fix the War memorial gymnasium, to make it a more modern facility with a little more space, the pool is in the way. So, by moving the pool or relocating it, we’d also be able to expand the area where the War Memorial Gymnasium sits to be able to accommodate a much better facility for our community.”
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