Your Government I Council looks to funding maintenance

Out of necessity, Kaua‘i County Council members have focused their attention to finding solutions to big-picture and controversial issues like development, traffic and solid waste.

During a council meeting at the historic County Building Wednesday, the legislators took a break and turned their attention to less controversial uses, but which are still of keen interest to everyday Kauaians.

The legislators talked about spending around $8.5 million in bond funds, approved by ordinance, to restore the historic County Building, build a second fire station in Kapa‘a, provide additional funds for a maintenance building at the Wailua Golf Course that was gutted by fire and renovate the Waimea Pool.

The council received a request from Douglas Haigh, the chief of the Building Division of the Kaua‘i County Public Works Department, to use:

• $1.8 million in bond funds for the renovation of the historic County Building, the oldest operating government building in Hawai‘i, and the annex building, once home to certain sections of the Kaua‘i Police Department and the Kaua‘i County Public Works Department.

Because both buildings have been placed on National and State Registers of Historic Places, the renovation work will very likely maintain the historical accuracy of the buildings and the way they looked more than 90 years ago.

The historic County Building was built in 1913 by the Territory of Hawai‘i, and was formally opened for business on May 9, 1914.

The government building was constructed with large simple rooms, high ceilings and transoms above the windows and doors to allow for air circulation in the days before air-conditioning became available.

In the 1960s, county leaders went on a modernization kick.

When Mayor Antone Vidinha ran the county, the building went through a facelift to reflect the times.

That translated into false ceilings, fluorescent lights, louvered windows, vinyl tiles, wooden railings and painted staircases. The interior walls were painted in pastel colors.

The historic County Building went back to its roots in the early 1980s, with the creation of the Kaua‘i County Building Restoration Committee in 1982.

Then newly elected Mayor Tony T. Kunimira and First Lady Phyllis Kunimura brought together residents and groups who wanted to return the County Building to its historical look.

Tony Kunimura helped raise funds, and the restoration committee searched for the original design plans of the building to begin the restoration of the building.

In May 2004, a celebration was held in the historic building to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the structure.

The annex building was originally home to some Territorial Government agencies before it was taken over by the county.

In recent years, the building was home to the Kaua‘i County Public Works Department and some divisions of the Kaua‘i Police Department.

Today, the small, one-story building sits vacant, although the Kauai Historical Society proposed to move into it.

The proposed renovation work for both buildings is still under discussion by the council;

• $5 million in bond funds to build a new fire station in Kapa‘a, to support the existing one located by the Waipouli Town Center.

In a letter to Kaua‘i County Council Chairman Kaipo Asing, Haigh noted that the Kapa‘a district is much too large and densely populated (due to more growth) for one fire station, “especially with the remoteness and growth of the Wailua Homesteads area.”

The $5 million would be used for the design and construction of the new facility;

• $1 million in bond funds to supplement the planning, design and construction of the Wailua Golf Course maintenance building, which was gutted by fire.

• $750,000 to renovate the Waimea Pool, which is located on the grounds of Waimea High School and is used by students.

The repair work would include refinishing the pool’s interior, replacing a gutter system, a drain line and chlorinator system and installing portable aluminum bleachers.

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