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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 6, 2005

Spending for canoe boathouses ends

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Construction of five canoe halau has been canceled and another may be put on the chopping block as officials question whether the city can afford more outrigger canoe boathouses or should spend the money on basic government services instead.

Work on the canoe halau at Poka'i Bay will resume in about a week. The project stalled over questions about construction material.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The canoe halau were part of a multimillion-dollar plan to build 14 across O'ahu, with the price tag for each ranging from a low of $339,000 to a high of $1.26 million.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said last week that he will support the completion of those that are under way, such as the $986,720 Ala Moana Regional Park halau, for which permits are being processed.

"The people have been anticipating its construction," Hannemann said. But he won't commit to projects that haven't made significant progress in the design and construction process.

"As far as constructing more canoe halau in the future, we'll probably have to wait awhile while we take care of roads and sewers," he said.

Two of the canceled halau were to be built at Ala Wai and had already been dropped before Hannemann took office. One planned for 'Ewa Beach has been scrapped because the community can't agree on a location; bids for the Hale'iwa halau came in too high and it is now canceled; and the Kaiona Beach canoe house was moved to nearby Waimanalo Beach Park. Another is still being designed for Kahalu'u Beach Park, but no construction money has been spent and it may be canceled.

Sense of community

The Kailua Canoe Club uses the Kailua Beach Park canoe halau when the recreational group wants to store its outrigger canoes.

Advertiser library photo • Aug. 20, 2001

The Maunalua Bay Beach Park halau opened in Hawai'i Kai on Aug. 10, 2002, with "a large, beautiful gathering of area residents who came to celebrate the opening of a facility that would protect the canoes used in Hawai'i's official state sport, outrigger canoe paddling," said East Honolulu resident Cynthia Bond.

Canoe halau serve an important role and can represent "a celebration of community," said Bond, who served on the vision team that proposed the Hawai'i Kai halau. Neighborhood schools make good use of the facility, which also serves the practical purpose of protecting canoes that had been subject to theft and vandalism, she said. But even the administration of former mayor Jeremy Harris had begun to slow halau-building, canceling the two proposed near the Ala Wai.

City Council member Charles Djou, who represents an area that stretches from Hawai'i Kai through Waikiki, praised Hannemann's decision to finish the halau in progress but hold off on others.

"If money grew on trees, I'd love to have all these canoe halau projects," Djou said. "But I'd rather have my roads fixed and my sewers upgraded and if there's money left over, hire some cops."

The canoe halau at Maunalua Bay Beach Park in Hawai'i Kai, which the city built at a cost of $663,050, opened on Aug. 10, 2002. The project was recommended by the city's vision team for Hawai'i Kai.

Advertiser library photo • July 15, 2002

The Ala Wai Community Park halau would have cost $1.26 million, including improvements to two parking lots, compared with the $339,000 Kaiona Beach canoe halau that was canceled when the boathouse was instead built at nearby Waimanalo Beach Park.

Eugene Lee, program coordinator of the city Department of Design and Construction, said the difference in price usually depends on the size of the project and its design as well as conditions at the sites.

"The larger ones will cost more and the more complex ones would require more extensive foundation work," Lee said.

City officials have tried to standardize the design of canoe halau to save time and money, he said, posing the questions: "Why don't we use prototypical designs? Why do we have to design it every time?"

Different preferences

A $510,647 canoe halau was built at Waimanalo Beach Park after it was decided not to build a $339,000 boathouse at Kaiona Beach in the same area. Costs vary according to design, contracting and location.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

But there were obstacles to that approach because different designers were picked for many of the projects, the Harris administration preferred to hire various contractors, and communities pushed for unique structures, he said.

"Everybody wants their own identity," Lee said.

The Poka'i Bay halau, currently under construction at $345,000, was bid in a lump-sum package that covered all that was needed for the 50-by-57-foot building, he said.

That includes electrical work, plumbing, termite treatment, masonry work, the grillwork to enclose the canoe storage area and the stone to cover the tile wall.

Kaimuki High School students carry a canoe from the Kumulokahi club to the waters off Ala Moana Beach Park. Mayor Mufi Hannemann says he'll proceed with a $986,720 project to build a halau there.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

"It's just pretty much a straightforward building," he said.

But Leeward resident Sparky Jones, who lives near Poka'i Bay, wondered why work has stopped for weeks on the oceanfront project. "I don't know what happened," Jones said.

Construction was suspended in December because of questions about the fasteners used for the metal roof, Lee said. That issue was resolved and work will resume Feb. 14.

Using Poka'i Bay to illustrate the range of factors that go into construction costs for halau, Lee said the city begins each project with an engineer's estimate that helps to evaluate which bids are reasonable.

The Ke'ehi Lagoon canoe halau project included construction of a driveway based on large rocks set into a gravel bed that was later filled in with paving material. The entire halau project cost the city $731,083.

Advertiser library photo • Feb. 10, 2004

The Poka'i Bay project came in close to $100 a square foot —"which is not unreasonable," he said.

The new buildings, he said, often have significant utility costs because the city needs to bring in water lines and electric lines.

Djou said that if there were no budget limits, he would support more canoe halau to honor the Hawaiian cultural traditions associated with canoe paddling. But he said some of these ambitious projects need to wait while the city focuses on core government services.

"How many of these darn things do we need?" Djou asked.

Advertiser Staff Writer Will Hoover contributed to this report. Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.

• • •

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Building a canoe halau

What $345,000 gets you

City design and construction officials said the winning bid to build the Poka'i Bay halau came in at $345,000 for the

50-by-57-foot canoe-storage boathouse, with nearly a third or $100,000 going to metal grillwork to close off the building. Also included in the bid were:

• A pest-control company's services to treat the ground for termites.

• Electrical work, water lines to link to hose bibs, some sidewalk construction.

• A fence company's services, masonry work to build tile walls and then cover with stone veneer.

• A metal fabrication company's services for the grillwork, painting, sealing and sheet metal for the roof.

Source: City Department of Design and Construction