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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2006

Wading pond loses upkeep battle

Video: Workers fill in the shallow pool at the Makiki pumping station

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Board of Water Supply workers fill in the shallow pool at the Makiki pumping station after years of problems with upkeep and concern over liability for accidents. It was initially built as an aesthetic feature.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Children from the Hanahauoli School often played in the pond at the Makiki pumping station during a recess break at the park.

ADVERTISER LIBRARY PHOTO | February 2000

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Pat Ho fondly remembers the little wading pool in Makiki from her own childhood splashing around in the shallow water and is sad to see the city this week filling up the neighborhood landmark with dirt and grass.

Ho, who grew up in Manoa, now works as advancement officer at Hanahauoli School, across the street from Archie Baker Mini Park, where the pond is located.

There's not much to the pond. It's about 35 feet by 10 feet, less than 2 feet deep and lined with green tile. It juts gently from the slope in the small triangle park in Makiki.

But the cool pool nestled between African tulip trees inspires a quiet loyalty. Honolulu Board of Water Supply officials have cared for the pond for decades, said spokeswoman Su Shin. But after problems developed and water couldn't be kept clean, the pond was drained and crews put up an orange construction fence weeks ago to keep people away.

Shin said the pool was built as an aesthetic feature to go alongside the water pumping station, which pumps water from a well to a reservoir. Shin understands that people in the community used it as a wading pool for years "but it was never meant for that."

Ho said the sparkling water proved irresistible to kids. "I think we knew that it really wasn't supposed to be a wading pool," she said. "But you couldn't resist. We all plunged in; we would jump in there and splash."

Former City Councilwoman Marilyn Bornhorst said her children recall learning to swim in that pool.

"It was clean and nice; it was just delightful," Bornhorst said. "It was a nice, nice pool," she said.

Alison Baclig, who teaches at Hanahauoli School, said the students will miss something else about the pool.

"Every year in JK (junior kindergarten), when the children study insects they go across to the park," Baclig said. "One of the favorite parts is finding the dragonflies hovering over the little pond."

Ho saw that the city was having trouble keeping up the pond. She saw the water wasn't clean in recent years and crews had to drain it.

"We all know how hard it is to maintain any kind of water feature," Ho said. "I understand, it's just sad."

Shin said the city is filling the pool mostly because of safety and liability concerns. She said there was no particular cost because the water crews handled the job themselves.

She said the crews will fill the pool with dirt and then grass and the job should be completed within two weeks. In the end, it will blend in with the landscaped area.

Ho and Bornhorst realize that the little pool belonged to a simpler time, one where legal liability wasn't an everyday worry.

"It's a shame to have lost it, but filling it in is much better than leaving it dirty," Bornhorst said.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.