|Open spaces at Ka`u High School will be studied for the location of the new $17.9 million gym and disaster shelter.|
Photo by Julia Neal
The $17.9 million project funded by the state is scheduled to be completed in under two years. It will be owned and operated by the county and provided to the school and community for use as a gymnasium. It will also be equipped for disaster preparedness, including filtration systems to clean the air for vog and will be used as a shelter during vog events and for such events as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires.
|The Ka`u High Gym, built in the 1930s, will continue to serve the school|
for events and athletics. Photo by Julia Neal
Other discussion in the community includes whether there will be a requirement in the bidding process to create a design that fits into the architecture of the school buildings that are on the Hawai`i State Register of Historic Places, without compromising its use as a disaster shelter. Whether there will be an alternative energy component, such as solar for hot water and electricity is another point of discussion, as power from the electric company could be cut off during a disaster. Whether the tennis courts would stay or be relocated is another concern, as well as how close the building and its parking lots would be to adjacent residential housing. Another question is where will people park their vehicles when they attend events, since the proposed location is the grassy parking area for most major events at the school.
Ross Stephenson, of the State Historic Preservation Division, said that it is always important for the community to provide comments before public buildings are designed, since designing and engineering costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Community members often comment only after the design is well underway. It is sometimes too late to include their suggestions.
The plan is to preserve the old gym, constructed in the 1930s, as additional space for school and community events, as well as athletics.
Council member Brittany Smart will not be able to attend. She will be at meetings in Kona, where money for maintenance of county land purchased through the Two Percent Land Fund comes up before the County Council Finance Committee.
Noelani Whittington, public information specialist for the Department of Public Works, said that emails were sent out last Thursday to alert the public that the meeting will be held tomorrow.
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