Repair work is expected to start next month to fix the leaky Coach Soichi Sakamoto Pool in Wailuku that has been closed to the public going on two years.
Crews will replaster the 50-meter pool's interior, fix gutters and perform other cement work to the tune of more than $300,000, according to county spokesman Rod Antone. The work is expected to take six months, with the county-run pool slated to reopen in the summer.
The latest round of fixes add to a history of costly repairs and closures that have plagued the aging Sakamoto pool that was built in the 1950s.
The Coach Soichi Sakamoto Pool remained closed Monday. Repairs to the leaky pool in Wailuku that has been closed for two years will begin next month. The pool will reopen in the summer, the county says.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Earlier this year, Mayor Alan Arakawa had proposed building a new $10 million aquatics complex on the site of the current Kahului Pool, near the Salvation Army. He said at the time that the Sakamoto pool needed more than $3 million worth of repairs.
The mayor's plans also called for building a new sports arena and convention center on the site of the aging War Memorial Gym complex and Sakamoto pool.
The Maui County Council did not fund the projects in the county's budget. They did agree to provide $100,000 in design money for the War Memorial project, a fraction of the $1.5 million in planning and design funds Arakawa had sought.
Antone said the administration still wants to pursue plans for a Kahului aquatic center.
"The mayor does believe that we need a new facility; we have wonderful aquatic centers in West Maui and South Maui, and definitely we need one in Central Maui where we have more families," Antone said. "In the meantime, until such time that our council provides the money, we will be fixing the Sakamoto pool so that the community can use it."
Incoming County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White - who currently heads the Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation Committee - did not respond to requests for comment.
Antone said that Arakawa is concerned that the growing repair costs will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run.
"When is the next time we'll have to put another $300,000 into this pool - a year from now, five years from now?" Antone said. "It's old and it's served the community well, but (it) might be time to retire it."
The pool is named after the legendary coach Soichi Sakamoto, who developed Olympic champions in the 1930s and '40s by training young swimmers in Puunene sugar irrigation ditches.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.