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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 31, 2002

Kaua'i unveils public safety building

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — The county has dedicated its new $17.7 million public safety building, named Ka Hale Maka'i O Kaua'i, or "house of the protectors."

Kaua'i's new public safety building, Ka Hale Maka'i O Kaua'i, was constructed to withstand disasters, such as hurricanes.

Jan TenBruggencate • The Honolulu Advertiser

The tan, two-story building with a green metal roof bristles with antennas.

It will house the police department, prosecutor's office, county dispatchers and the Civil Defense agency.

A public safety building has been in the planning stages for 15 years. Its progress was delayed by 1992's Hurricane 'Iniki, but the new structure used lessons from that storm in its construction.

"It's built to a 120-mph wind load," said Doug Haigh, chief of the county building department.

Additionally, the Civil Defense section is encased in concrete and is expected to survive any disaster, even if the rest of the building is destroyed.

The building has two wings and 65,000 square feet of space. Except for the concrete framework for the Civil Defense portion, it is steel framed with heavily reinforced outer walls.

The police section has eight holding cells, compared with two in the termite-ridden old headquarters.

The Civil Defense section, which replaces two underground floors at the 1913 County Building, is built on a raised floor, under which run power and communication cables and other wiring to support a state-of-the-art emergency operating center.

It has a hardened underground communications line to the Verizon Hawai'i central station, which in turn has an underground line to a fiberoptic underwater cable to Honolulu.

"We won't be cut off like we were after Hurricane Iniki," said Civil Defense chief Mark Marshall.

There are also portable satellite telephones and spare antennae in case the ones on the roof are blown off in a hurricane.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 245-3074.