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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 21, 2010

Maui to close pools on county holidays

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ongoing budget problems have forced Maui County officials to order the closure of nine municipal swimming pool complexes on 13 holidays, starting with Memorial Day.

The county also said additional closures may be necessary because of possible budget cuts that could result in layoffs and furloughs. The Maui County Council is considering a 7 percent budget cut for the 2010-11 fiscal year to offset lower-than-expect-ed tax collections.

Although the budget has yet to be set, officials have already decided to close the pools on county holidays. They are New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Kūhiō Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Kamehameha Day, Independence Day, Statehood Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and general Election Day during an election year.

The closures will affect eight pool complexes on Maui and one on Moloka'i.

The county did not say how much money will be saved by closing the pools, but a spokeswoman said the savings will be "due to overall operating expenses," including utilities, maintenance and staffing costs.

The spokeswoman said the holidays were selected because they have the least usage, compared with weekdays when there are water programs and swimming practice sessions.

But a coach with the Maui Dolphins Swim Club said the pools are heavily used on the holidays, especially during the summer. Malcolm Cooper said many families prefer to go to a pool because of the hazards associated with beaches.

"No one can figure out how they're going to save money in any significant way by doing this," Cooper said. "July 4, Labor Day and Memorial Day aren't days to close pools. On family days they do get pool use."

The Dolphins Swim Club uses the Upcountry pool in Pukalani, and Cooper said the holiday closures should not impact club programs. But he suggested other ways to save money besides closing the pools.

One way would be to cover the pools to prevent heat loss from evaporation. He said the Pukalani pool is covered from October through May during the cool nights when he said evaporation is at its greatest.

For swimming pool information, call the Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Aquatics Division, at 270-6135 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/aquatics. For daily pool information, call the county's Pool Information Line at 270-8208.