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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Kilauea center to reopen today after upgrade

By James Gonser
Urban Honolulu Writer

The voice of Frank Sinatra crooning to ballroom dancers and the shouts of karate clubs teaching self-defense will soon be emanating from the refurbished Kilauea Recreation Center again after the city officially reopens the facility today.

The popular recreation center on Kilauea Avenue in Kaimuki has been closed since June while crews worked to refit the building to conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1991.

Among other things, the law essentially says that people with disabilities are entitled to the same degree of access to public facilities as people who are not disabled.

Work on the Kilauea Avenue center is part of a citywide project to make public buildings ADA-accessible.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the $484,000 Kilauea project is a complete ADA-accessible upgrade of the facility, which included improvements to the restrooms, partitions, electrical system, doors, window frames, walkways and access ramps to the ball fields and tennis courts.

"The point is to allow complete access," Costa said. "Not just the restrooms, but to make ease of use and enjoyment of the facility available to all citizens. The parks department has a priority list of facilities that they are going to bring up to this level. This one is utilized by young and old, and they felt it was a very appropriate site to begin this wholesale ADA upgrade."

The project was expected to have been completed in October, but was extended to Jan. 31 to allow more time to renovate the bleachers, Costa said. MJ Construction is still working on the bleachers, which are expected to be reinstalled by the end of the month.

David Gulick, president, Kaimuki Chapter Hawai'i Ballroom Dancing Association, said his group has been holding classes at the Kahala Elementary School cafeteria while the work was being done and are anxious to return to the renovated gym.

"The recreation center is one of the better facilities," Gulick said. "It's the size of it. The room we use is much bigger and more conducive to classes than some of the cafeterias, and we don't have to move tables. Dancing is really good exercise. I hope we get back in there soon."

The city is also busy making the wheelchair ramps and curb cuts on public streets needed to comply with the federal disability act.

A court agreement reached in October calls for more than 1,500 of the ramps to be built by the end of this year and an average of 1,300 or 1,400 per year after that. All of the estimated 7,600 ramps needed are scheduled to be completed by December 2007 at a cost of $94.3 million.

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.