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Ask The Mayor: Why is Sakamoto Pool Closed?

June 2, 2019, 12:00 PM HST · Updated June 1, 11:28 PM
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Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his staff.

Q: I saw the sign at Sakamoto Pool announcing that the pool will be closed for renovations from June through November. Closing this pool during summer vacation is just plain wrong for the children, adults and seniors of our community, during what is shaping up to be one of our hottest Maui summers on record. Summer is a time for kids to learn to swim, for families to relax together at the pool. Why can’t we delay the pool repairs until August when kids are back in school or close off one locker room at a time to keep the pool open?

While there are two smaller pools that will be open in Central Maui (Kokua and Coach Spencer Shiraishi pools), these pools are shallow, small, get overly warm and can’t accommodate the summertime demand. Not everyone has the means to travel to Kīhei, Lahaina and Upcountry to swim. My husband and I are among the seniors who swim for health and fitness. We have been swimming at Sakamoto three times per week.

Please reconsider this move and make changes to the plan to keep Sakamoto Pool open during the summer.

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A:  Mahalo for your question, and I know closing any County facility is never ideal, especially a pool during the summer.

I want to emphasize, however, that the decision to temporarily close Coach Soichi Sakamoto Pool was thoroughly researched and weighed by our Department of Parks and Recreation. While many of us may think the summer would not be the best time to close a pool, department staff found that the six-month period from June to November would actually have the least impact on the public and permitted users.

This is primarily because December through May is Maui Interscholastic League swimming/diving and water polo seasons, and Baldwin High School’s physical education program would not be using the pool during summer break.

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The repairs and improvements to Sakamoto Pool are quite extensive, including the removal and replacement of existing toilet fixtures, accessories, partitions, showers, ceramic tiles and floor drainage to meet current ADA accessibility standards. Work also includes repainting the interior surfaces, removal and disposal of hazardous materials, and testing and air-monitoring areas affected by hazardous materials. Improvements to the pool include repair and maintenance of pool filters, pumps and exterior walls.

Repairs to Sakamoto Pool as well as recently completed ones at the Upcountry Pool in Pukalani are part of an ongoing program to keep Maui County’s pools working efficiently. Just as an older car needs more repairs and frequent maintenance, so too do our pools.

We have some of the oldest pools in the state, with Sakamoto Pool over 50 years old and past its useful life, and Coach Spencer Shiraishi Memorial (Kahului) Pool turning 60 this year. All of them are faced with obsolescence, for both their physical condition and their ability to meet the changing needs of the public.

Maui County’s eight public pools require nearly $9 million in repairs and renovations to keep them operating for an additional 10 to 15 years, according to our Aquatic Facilities Master Plan. I’m happy to report that the repairs to the Upcountry Pool resolved many problems and maintenance repair recommendations in the master plan.

I understand that not everyone has a means to travel, but our county has one of the highest ratios of 50-meter pools per capita in the United States with four pools serving over 150,000 residents. Although Kokua and Shiraishi pools are only 25 yards long, they will remain open alongside Upcountry Pool, which opened on June 1, during Sakamoto Pool’s closure.

To assist with the temporary closure, the department’s Pool Section has moved its early morning lap swim and masters’ swim program held from 6:30 to 8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Kokua Pool.

Public lunch lap swim also will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Coach Spencer Shiraishi Memorial Pool. Public lap swim and family recreation will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Kokua Pool.

Mahalo again, for your question and time. For more information, please call Duke Sevilla at 270-6137.

Want to Ask The Mayor?

Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email [email protected]

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