Sakamoto Pool to reopen

After being closed for more than two years, the Soichi Sakamoto Pool is reopening – to only lap swimmers Monday and to everyone else July 1, the county Department of Parks and Recreation announced.

The pool’s schedule is:

* Mondays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

* Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

* Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

* Sundays, noon to 4:30 p.m.

The pool built in the 1950s has not seen swimmers since February 2011, when it was closed for repairs.

Parks officials spent a year figuring out what needed to be done and considering different designs.

In January 2012, the county sought contractors to bid on an estimated $1.2 million project to repair and renovate the 50-meter pool. Design plans called for extending the length of the pool by 4 feet on its shallow end, installing a stainless steel gutter and water circulation system, replacing the pool’s heater and putting in a new bulkhead.

That project did not go forward, and the pool remained locked. Later in 2012, Mayor Alan Arakawa proposed building a new, $10 million aquatics complex on the site of the current Kahului Pool, near the Salvation Army. At the time, he said that the Sakamoto Pool needed $3 million in repairs.

The mayor’s plan also called for a new sports arena and convention center on the site of the War Memorial Complex and Sakamoto Pool. But the Maui County Council did not fund those project proposals.

Then, in November, the county announced that repair work on the Sakamoto Pool was to begin with a scaled-back $300,000 project. It included replastering of the pool’s interior, the repair of gutters and other cement work. The project was estimated to take around six months to complete.

The Sakamoto Pool’s long closure forced swimmers to find other venues to train and to hold swim meets. The Maui Masters swimmers moved their training sessions to the Kokua Pool next to the Kahului Community Center. The result was more crowding in that pool.

Baldwin High School suspended its learn-to-swim program, and swim meets were moved to the Kihei and Lahaina aquatic centers.

The pool is named after legendary coach Soichi Sakamoto. He developed Olympic champions in the 1930s and ’40s by training young swimmers in Puunene sugar irrigation ditches.

The Parks Department also announced that the War Memorial Stadium will be closed for events from July 1 to 22 while the facility’s internal roadway is repaved. However, the stadium’s track will be open for joggers and walkers from 5 p.m. to sunset Mondays through Fridays and from sunrise to sunset Saturdays and Sundays.

And, the Hana Ball Field basketball and tennis courts will be closed for acrylic resurfacing from July 15 to Sept. 15.

For more information, call the Parks Department’s Planning and Development Division at 270-7931.