Waialua High School swim coach Robert Atwood’s club team of 28 youths has not been able to train lately, and many members have moved on to other activities.

Ever since lights at the North Shore’s Waialua District Park were removed from the pool and athletic fields in March 2016 due to rust, Atwood has been pushing to get new ones installed.

Now it looks like he may get his wish, thanks in part to recent action by the Honolulu City Council.

“The high school team works out there during the high school swim season,” Atwood said. “Since we were ushered out of the Waialua pool, we were fortunate enough to work out at Camp Erdman, at the YMCA Camp. At least for the high school team — not for the club team.”

Waialua District park swimming pool.
The Waialua District Park swimming pool hasn’t had working light fixtures since 2016. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lights are a necessity for the swim programs run by Atwood and his wife Karen because community programs tie up the facilities until 4 p.m. on weekdays. By the time their athletes are able to train, it is starting to get dark.

“This is a fairly rural district that does not have the advantage that many urban Honolulu communities have in terms of the number of park facilities in a readily accessible area,” said Councilman Ernie Martin, who represents the North Shore. “This should have been one of the highest priorities for the administration — to have those lights replaced.”

Martin’s Resolution 18-5, passed by the City Council on Jan 31, urges the city administration to expedite the restoration of lighting systems at the park. The council also requested temporary lighting systems be installed until a permanent solution is found.

As a former swim student of Atwood’s, Mari Green became a coach herself and while she no longer instructs, she is sad that her former students do not have the access to the pool.

“We had water polo when I was a senior in 2006,” said Green, who now manages the Surf and Sea store in nearby Haleiwa. “There’s one girl now that I know of that catches the bus all the way to Waipio to practice.”

Community members have been writing letters and voicing their concerns.  

“We want it replaced as quickly as possible, because it does impact our community and kids,” said Kathleen Pahinui, North Shore Neighborhood Board chair. “We’re being very tenacious. As a community, we’ve been working together reaching out to various people in the city to make sure that things stay on track.”

“The Department of Design and Construction is working with a consultant right now in designing a lighting system at Waialua District Park,” said Honolulu Parks and Recreation spokesman Nathan Serota. “Projects take awhile because they need to go through the budgeting process as well.”

The council resolution noted that the budget for fiscal year 2017 included a $3 million appropriation to fix the lighting systems. In fiscal year 2018, which began last July, the amount appropriated jumped to $4.88 million.

Serota said after the consultant builds a framework for the contract, it will go up for bid. From there, it will take a couple of months for contractors to submit bids and for the job to be awarded, he said.

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