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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

Kamehameha complex on track; field has some woes

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

The new $14.5-million outdoor athletic complex at the Kamehameha Schools was the original site of this weekend's state high school track and field championships.

The track was found to be a bit short after an eyeball inspection by consultant Don Paige.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

But the meet was moved to Mililani High School because the finish line of the track at Kamehameha was a fraction of an inch short and the new field's drainage did not work.

Though the track was fixed in time for the state meet and a "remediation" program is under way to improve drainage of the field, the event will still take place at Mililani.

The Kamehameha complex is expected to be acceptable for use in August, more than six months after the original date of expected completion.

When it is finished, the Kamehameha facility will be "the No. 1 high school track and field/football/soccer complex in the country," said Don Paige, consultant on the Kamehameha track and 150 others in the U.S., including the Olympic Training Center in San Diego.

"You never see a high school facility like this," Paige said. "Lots of facilities have really nice grass fields, lots have nice tracks, some have nice stadiums, some have nice lights, some have nice scoreboards, some have good press boxes, some have nice architectural features.

"But you won't find another facility in the U.S. that has all those elements, as the Kamehameha complex does."

It was Paige, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic track team, who discovered the error in measurement at Kamehameha.

"There is no tolerance in track and field for things to be shorter than the distance. A 100-meter course cannot be 99.999 meters," Paige said. "Dr. Chun (Michael Chun, the schools' president) said that 'if any world records are set here, we want to be certain they will be approved.' "

Because of the error in striping the track, the contractor, Southwest Recreational Industries of Texas, had to lay down an additional half-inch thick layer of Rekortan polyurethane surface, then measure and paint it again, Paige said.

"You can't paint red over the white lines or grind them off, you have to resurface it," Paige said. "It's like when you find a flaw in a new sofa; you have it recovered."

"Line striping is a true art," Paige said. "There are only a dozen people in the U.S. who can do it. ... It was very windy when the track was striped."

One of the Kamehameha managers closest to the project said the track appeared to be less than a quarter of an inch short.

"It looked like the paint bled over; the edge wasn't sharp enough. It was like when you tape a wall and paint, then pull the tape off and find the paint has bled under the tape a little bit and the edge is fuzzy. Don Paige said it was unacceptable," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fixing the drainage has been a bigger project.

"It is a process of aeration and amending the existing soil mixture with additional sand to improve the drainage of the field," Kamehameha spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said.

When it's done, Paige said, "it could pour rain at 2 p.m. and you could start a football or soccer game at 3 p.m. with no water on the field."

Fixing the track and field will not cost Kamehameha any additional money, Paulsen said. All the work was and is being done at the contractors' expense.

Tons of earth were moved around and part of a mountain carved away to make room for the complex, half of which is on the site of Mawaena Field. There will be seating for 3,000 people, which is not sufficient for a major Interscholastic League of Honolulu football game but adequate for most crowds.

"The ewa view will be so good it will be hard to concentrate on the football game," said Walter Thoemmes, manager of facility design and management for the Kamehameha Schools.