YMCA readies to open one-of-a-kind facility

PUHI — It’s been nearly 20 years in the making, but come late June the Kaua‘i ‘Ohana YMCA’s Olympic-sized swimming pool will go from concept to reality.

The soft opening of the new facility in Puhi will also solidify the nonprofit, family-oriented organization’s presence on Kaua‘i.

The YMCA has operated Camp Naue in Ha‘ena since 1926, hosting 5,000 overnight guests annually. However, much of its work the over the years has been out in the community facilitating programs and goals for local groups, from volleyball to rodeo to body boarding and sailing.

The headquarters will change all that by bringing the community to the Y.

“We want to make this the mecca of aquatic activity,” said Director Tom Tannery Friday, looking out on an expanse of blue tile.

Once open, the Kaua‘i ‘Ohana YMCA will offer three main facilities — a weight room, locker rooms and the pools.

The weight room features elliptical machines, treadmills and cardio bikes, all with their own television screens, as well as weight training equipment.

The locker rooms are a separate building abutting the pools, with inside and outside hot-water showers.

In between the two buildings is a small solar-heated learning pool and whirl pool for keiki classes and therapy.

The Olympic-sized pool, which takes up about as much space as the other amenities combined, is the real masterpiece.

To certify the pool so it can be used in competitive meets of all levels, the length must be 50 yards and the width must be 25 yards — absolutely no less and no more than 1 3/18-inch over.

Aquatic Director Stephanie Rogers said the black lines in tile on the bottom were aligned using lasers, and it has a state-of-the art gutter system that results in faster swimming times.

“Our kids are going to do well,” said Pat Childs, president of the Kaua‘i YMCA board of directors. “Our kids are going to qualify for states.”

At the deep end there will be two spring diving boards, the only ones on the island. And if funding comes through, Rogers said she’d like to install four touch pads, which allow for the most exact timing possible during races.

The tiles will need about two more weeks to finish curing. Rogers said it would take more than double that to fill the large pool with 550,000 gallons of water were it not for the Kaua‘i Fire Department, which has offered the use of its high-pressure hose and a fire hydrant.

When all is said and done, Rogers expects to have diving, water polo, competitive swim teams, kids swim lessons, water aerobics, water therapy and SCUBA lessons sharing use of the one-of-a-kind Kaua‘i facility.

Centrally located in the county seat — near schools, Kauai Community College and the Regency at Pua Kea — Tannery said there’s no better place for the Y headquarters.

“It should grow like crazy,” Tannery said. “It should be dynamic.”

He said the project’s progress has been the result of government, business and private support.

After an initial site on state land in Kapa‘a fell through in the 1990s, the county subsequently offered the current location as well as a 50-year lease at a rate of $1 a year.

In addition to county, state and federal grants, $4.5 million was raised in cash donations for the first phase.

The pools and initial buildings represent the first phase of development for the headquarters, as there are plans to build a gym as well as a wellness and childcare center.

Tannery estimates the gym will run $4 million and be used for roller hockey, volleyball, ballroom dancing, you name it.

Likewise, the center will be home to all types of classes, from ukulele, to karate to educational.

“We believe this is going to be a really good thing, not just now but after we’re long-gone,” Tannery said.

• Blake Jones, business writer/assistant editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or bjones@kauaipubco.com.


How to join

• Rates are $60 a month for adults, $75 for families. There are discounted rates for single-parent families, seniors and teens.

• For more information, call the Kaua‘i ‘Ohana YMCA at 246-9090.

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