2 decades later, Kilauea Gym still leaks

KILAUEA — Philip Baclayon has been coaching basketball games at the Kilauea Gym for the past 15 years and has been playing there for even longer.

Over the years, the Kilauea resident has seen a number of challenges on the court, but one that has not been resolved are gym’s sporadic water leaks, which have damaged basketball court floorboards and created slipping hazards during heavy rain storms.  

“Kauai does pour a lot, so when there’s a lot of rain, there is a lot of moisture and a lot of wind,” Baclayon said. “There’s not a lot of coverage by the door, so any kind of wind going with water is going to seep right in.”

Some relief may be on the way as county-contracted engineers begin assessing the nearly 20-year-old structure for leaks and cracks over the next few months.

The $119,723.30 contract for “consulting and design services” on the Kilauea Gym, was awarded to Honolulu-based engineering and design firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. on May 16, according to county purchasing documents.

“A roofing consultant was recently contracted by the Parks Department to prepare a report that analyzes the cause of the leaks and provide recommended cures,” Department of Parks Director Leonard Rapozo, Jr. said in an email. “The consultant is currently reviewing our records on the roofs (as built plans, construction notes, etc.).”

Rapozo said the one-year contract became effective on July 8 after the county sent the firm a notice to proceed with the project.

This project, Rapozo said, includes reviewing  construction documents of the roof, floor and doors; conducting site visits; submitting a report summarizing the investigation and recommendations for repairs; creating construction drawings and specifications to address issues with the roof, floor and doors; and assisting with the bidding and construction phase to address any questions or concerns.

A site visit to physically examine the roof is being coordinated for later this month and the report is expected to be completed within two or three months of the site visit, Rapozo said.

Earlier efforts to forge a final proposal with the engineering firm dates back to late last year, when the county began reviewing the company’s proposal. This process, Rapozo said, “included a lot of dialogue and resulted in about five different versions of the proposal.”

“During the procurement process, the county and potential contractor engaged in negotiations to ensure that the final contract is accurate and feasible,” Rapozo said in an email. “The final version captures the full scope of work and is agreeable to both parties.”

Some residents, however, are not so sure.

Kilauea Neighborhood Association Director Bill Troutman has monitored the problems at the neighborhood park gym for nearly two decades and said water leaks have been an issue since it was first built after Hurricane Iniki.

“It was a problem from the get-go,” Troutman recalled as he walked through the Kilauea Gym on Tuesday. “It leaked so bad. We could barely play basketball inside there.”

To resolve this issue, Troutman said the county had the roof redone in the 1990s and placed a second roof on top of that one in 2003. But the leaks, he said, are still happening.

Troutman said it’s the gym’s side doors, and not the roof, that are causing the problem.

“I feel like we’re wasting money,” Troutman said. “For me, the solution is just a logical one. It’s not a rocket science repair either — just put a canopy over the side doors.”

Rapozo said the county decided to hire “an internationally-recognized firm that specializes in solving structural, architectural and materials problems in new and exisiting structures,” because past fixes have been unsuccessful.

“We are always open to input from the public on county matters,” Rapozo said.  “The problem with leaks at Kilauea gym is a long-standing issue that requires expertise on such matters.”

Troutman said he checks the gym regularly but has not found any serious leaks since 2008, when water poured from underneath the doors and warped the basketball court’s floorboards.

“Since then, (the floorboards) have dried up considerably and has actually went down,” Troutman said as he knelt down to check on the leaks. “There are still some small ridges but it’s bearable. It’s not an emergency situation, let’s put it that way, but if we catch more leakage, we’re going to have a problem.”

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