State accuses County of neglecting maintenance of old KPD headquarters building

A state official said the county deliberately dodged maintenance responsibilities on its former Kauai Police Department headquarters, knowing it was going to move out of the state-owned building.

The result is that the state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), which owns the old KPD headquarters building on ‘Umi Street in Lihu’e, will have to spend a lot of time and money to make the facility useful once KPD finally, totally moves to its new facility near Vidinha Stadium.

“The county knew they were going to vacate, so didn’t put a lot of effort into maintenance of it,” said Stanley Doi, DAGS district engineer.

County officials contend the issue of maintenance is “moot,” because the next tenant will have some major renovation work to do before the building will be useful as anything other than a police station.

Wallace G. Rezentes, Sr., administrative assistant to Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, said he wasn’t sure if the building’s lease agreement called for the county or state to maintain the premises.

But the next tenant will need to do major renovations and improvements regardless of the planned use, as the interior is configured for the sole purpose of operating a police department, he explained.

“No matter who uses it (next), they’re going to renovate that thing and spend some improvement dollars over there. So, to me, the issue of maintenance is really moot, no matter who uses the building,” Rezentes said.

“If you’re going to convert it to office space, you’re going to have to go through some major work. There’s no way you can use that like it is,” said Rezentes.

The state’s latest assessment of the physical condition of the building was done in 1991, Doi said. “We need to take a look at that building” before using it for any state offices, he said.

There are no immediate plans for use of that building once the KPD move is final, Doi continued. The KPD won’t be totally out of its old headquarters building until the early part of next year, said Doi.

The KPD came to be a tenant in the state-owned building after the county sold to the state land the county owned under Wilcox Elementary School, and the land and building where KPD’s old headquarters is located, to raise funds to purchase Lihue Shopping Center, Rezentes recalled.

Initially, the old KPD building was going to house state Judiciary offices, he said.

The movement of other county offices into the new KPD headquarters building last month created some vacancies in some locations, and quick internal requests for uses of some of those former offices, said Jenny Fujita, county public information officer.

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and its Victim Witness Program, Civil Defense, emergency dispatch operators and KPD all share the new facility, meaning the attorneys’ two portable buildings behind the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall are vacant, as well as the former Civil Defense offices in the basement of the Historic County Building, and the old dispatch center in the old Lihue Shopping Center.

Although requests have come in from other county agencies to use the attorney’s former offices, at least on Friday, Dec. 6 the Lights on Rice Parade committee will use the space as its command center, Fujita said.

After that date, there are no long-term uses planned for that space yet, but county Director of Finance Eugene Jimenez is receiving internal use requests, she said.

The former Victim Witness Program space has been taken by the county Offices of Community Assistance Housing Agency staff, which plans to remain there until moving into the old Gem store location, Fujita explained.

That Gem renovations are expected to be done sometime next year, she said.

There is no planned use for the former dispatch location. The basement of the Historic County Building will be used as a backup emergency operations center for Civil Defense, and may be used for some secure storage space by the Kauai Historical Society, she said.

Once the former Gem location is renovated, it will house the Offices of Community Assistance (Housing, Transportation and Elderly Affairs), administrative offices of the Kauai Fire Department, the KFD’s Ocean Safety Bureau, and the county’s Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator.

The new administration will play a role in considering the best uses for the vacated office space, she concluded.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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