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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:15 a.m., Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Pool in Palolo put on hold yet again

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Additional repairs to a much-debated tile job at the Palolo Valley District Park swimming pool have delayed its re-opening one more time.

The pool, closed a year ago for a $300,000 repair project, was supposed to open six months ago, in February. Problems with the tile job pushed that date to early this month.

Now the earliest possible date for a cooling plunge in the heat of August is late next week, long after neighborhood schoolchildren will have gone back to school.

"My frustration is I keep promising this thing, and I haven't been able to deliver," said an exasperated Tim Steinberger, director of the city Department of Design and Construction. "Why put a date on any of this anymore? It's tough."

Colin Leong, project manager for contractor KD Construction, said he feels the same way.

"Every time I talk to somebody and say that it is looking good, something happens," Leong said today. "I'm really gun-shy."

The problems surfaced early this year when inspectors discovered that many of the pool's 2--by-2-inch ceramic tiles did not adhere to the bottom of the pool. City officials wanted the entire job redone but agreed to more selective repairs when the contractor promised a five-year warranty, Steinberger said.

The latest delay was caused by the same problem — tiles not staying put. A week ago, inspectors found the telltale hollow sound under newly tiled areas of the pool, Steinberger said.

"My only concern is that they will go out and test again, and they may find some more new areas of hollow-sounding tile," he said. "They may continue to chase more hollow sounds, and we get back to the original disagreement over doing the whole bottom of the pool vs. only spots."

Leong said his workers need a few hot, dry days for the tiles to set. He said the near-nightly rain in Palolo Valley may have been the source of all his problems.

"We lay the tile during the day, and it is freshly laid tile, and it rains at night and the tile is not completely set," Leong said. "The water gets down under the tile."

If he can get the sealant down in the next day or so, the job can be finished.

"Then I can count the days from there," he said.

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.