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New Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter to break ground this fall

Ka‘ū District residents will see their ideas and dreams for a community gym and emergency center begin to take shape this fall with the start of construction on the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter.

The County of Hawai‘i recently awarded the $17 million construction contract to Summit Construction; construction is expected to begin this September and last approximately 18 months to complete.

The new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter will be located on the Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary school campus.  It will be operated and maintained by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation.

The 43,300- square-foot facility will be built to Enhanced Hurricane criteria.

In acknowledgment of Ka‘ū’s proximity to vog emissions, the multi-purpose room and recreational room are provided with filtration systems and can serve as a shelter when there is an increased level of volcanic discharge in the area’s atmosphere.

The size and diversity of the facility is in direct response to comments gathered in November and December from the community, said Mayor Billy Kenoi.  “The Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter has been designed to expand athletic and recreational opportunities, serve as a destination for community events and emergency shelter during natural disasters.”

The gym will also accommodate three regulation HHSAA basketball or volleyball courts, and could host the Big Island Interscholastic (BIIF) basketball or volleyball games.  Accessory rooms will include; locker and training rooms, and restrooms; a lobby, courtyard, certified kitchen, ticket booths; and office space, and storage areas for the State Department of Education, County Parks & Recreation, and the American Red Cross.

Mary Correa, Complex Area Superintendent for Ka‘ū - Kea‘au, Pāhoa Complex Area (KKPCA) said, “We are appreciative of the partnership between the County of Hawai‘i, the Department of Education Facilities Section Duane Kashiwai, Nick Nichols, Tracy Okumura, Ka‘ū High Principal Sharon Beck and Athletic Director Kalei Namohala.  They worked diligently and quickly to figure out what was needed to award a construction contract before the fiscal year ended in June.  We are also grateful to Senator Gil Kahele and Representative Bob Herkes for securing funding for a new Gym and Shelter in Ka‘ū District.  Our students and the community are excited to have a new gym in their midst and continue to dream of possibilities once it is completed.”

A groundbreaking will be held prior to the start of construction.