The state Legislature has earmarked $3.279 million for the island’s first Olympic-sized swimming pool for the new Puhi YMCA campus, and all that stands in the way is Gov. Linda Lingle’s signature.
“The governor has already given assurances, to me and the public, that that will happen,” said YMCA Kaua‘i general director Tom Tannery of Lingle’s intention to approve the legislation.
The Kaua‘i YMCA has been a “non-facility Y” since losing its Po‘ipu lease in the 1980s, said Donna Schulze, a YMCA board member for 27 years.
Kaua‘i is the only major Hawaiian island without a YMCA building and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
But that’s all about to change.
“The first building is going out to bid right now,” Tannery said. Board members are hoping to break ground this summer, and open the new facility by April.
Tannery said the pool should open in two years, assuming the state releases the money on time. An Olympic-sized swimming pool is 50 meters long by 25 meters wide.
“This is exciting,” he said. “It’s going to be great for our kids, our community and our future.”
“It’s going to be a great asset to our community,” said state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau. “I’m looking forward to seeing kids jump around in the water.”
Hooser was quick to state the efforts of the entire Kaua‘i legislative delegation, especially House Finance Committee Vice Chair, state Rep. Bertha Kawakami, D-West Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, helped the appropriation along.
The new facility is in the district of state Rep. Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu‘e-Koloa, and state Rep. Mina Morita, D-Kapa‘a-Hanalei, also supported the legislation.
“The board of directors at the Y is a real dedicated group of people,” Hooser added. “It was a team effort.”
Tannery praised the work of the entire board, as well as architect Ron Agor, who donated countless pro-bono hours designing the new facility.
Tannery also expressed relief, saying this was the third or fourth time the YMCA-Kaua‘i board had requested money from the state Legislature.
“Good things are finally coming to us,” said Schulze. “This is one of the best things that has happened to us in 90 years.”
Schulze was president when the YMCA lost not only its lease in Po‘ipu, but also the building.
“It was a concrete building,” she said. “We couldn’t move it.”
It is now the site of Nukumoi Surf Company, next to Brennecke’s Beach Broiler and across Ho‘one Road from Po‘ipu Beach Park.
A 10-year volunteer swimming instructor in the Prince-ville area, Schulze said she couldn’t be happier that the YMCA will soon have its own pool.
“We’re very grateful to the governor for this,” she said. “It’s a gift. A great gift.”
Of the $3.279 million, $228,000 is appropriated for planning. The remaining $3.069 million will go toward construction.
Tannery said the next step, barring a line-item gubernatorial veto, will be to find a builder.
• Ford Gunter, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or firstname.lastname@example.org.