War Memorial synthetic turf to wait until May

In a move that will allow the majority of War Memorial Stadium events to proceed as usually scheduled, Maui County has shifted the instillation of artificial turf on the field to May.

“We hope this takes some pressure off some of the groups that the work might have affected,” county spokesman Rod Antone said Tuesday. “We know the athletic directors at the different schools all want this turf in there and we do, too. We are hoping it will save us some money as far as maintenance. We think it will be a win-win for everybody.”

Bids were originally taken for the project until Nov. 7 with a goal of putting in the turf during the winter months, but changes to the original plan – the addition of a longer runway for long jump, triple jump and pole vault being foremost – caused a delay, according to Brianne Savage, the county’s deputy director of parks and recreation.

“A combination of it takes a long time, at least 90 days, to go out to bid and then execute a contract and get all the paperwork laid out, so there were at least a couple of things that held up that process a little bit,” Savage said. “It just pushed back the time frame, so we were back to looking at, ‘Is there another time where it’s a down time, where there’s enough time to get it done, or is this something that is going to have to wait another full calendar year?’ We really did not want to have to wait that long.”

The project is now slated to start immediately after Maui High School graduation ceremonies on May 24, which means Maui Interscholastic League soccer matches and track meets can be held in the facility.

The first game involving an MIL football team this year took place on Aug. 11, but War Memorial Stadium was not used until Aug. 24.

“We said we can fit it in this May-June-July window,” Savage said. “We’re just going to have to really make sure we are managing the project with tight reins and we’re really pushing and people understand that it has to be complete in 90 days.”

Antone said the plan also now involves moving the sod on the field to another spot yet to be determined, an idea from Mayor Alan Arakawa.

“A lot of our parks are overused, teams fighting to have practice time, so (Arakawa) was thinking this would be one way to add a field somewhere where our youth and adult leagues could use it,” Antone said. “We are still searching for a location, so parks saying that they are not going to put the turf in until after graduation, it gives us some time.”

Savage said the budget for the project is approximately $1 million, with about $900,000 appropriated from the state already, but noted: “Until we really go out to bid with it, it is kind of just a guessing game.”

The new plan calls for one long runway for field events, with pits at each end. Currently the pole vault runway and pit are on one side of the field, while the long and triple jump are on the other side.

“The problem with pits on both sides of the field is you can’t get wide enough for a regulation soccer (field) that could host a state tournament,” Savage said. “The track area is pretty long and narrow, it is not as wide as some of the other tracks that get built, so we are really confined in that space. We are trying to get a few extra yards to get up to a 62-yard width.”

Savage said an internal meeting this afternoon should shed more light on the plan.

“To make sure that this project is ready to go out to bid, we have our scheduling, timing taken care of, just make sure that we’re all on the same page and then hopefully then we can move forward with it,” she said. “We hope to go out to bid very, very soon.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com