HILO — Years after flooring in the Honokaa Armory was damaged, repairs are underway, although the work could still face more delays.
Honokaa High and Intermediate School acting Vice Principal Daphne Honma said a water heater broke in the armory, which serves as the school gym, during the summer of 2015. Water leaked and warped the wood floor, which was installed nearly a decade ago, around 2009, she said.
A bulk of the repair work began at the start of the current academic year, she said.
Honma said last week that subflooring has been installed and the school was waiting for the actual wood flooring to acclimate to prevent buckling in the future.
“So it’s right now a wait-and-see kind of thing,” she said.
Honma did not comment about possible causes for the repair delays, but said there was “just one thing after another that seemed to prolong it.”
According to the state Department of Education, the work is a repair and maintenance project, the total cost of which is approximately $750,000.
“Using the traditional design-bid-build method can take up to seven years to move through the appropriation, design, bidding and construction phases,” said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent of the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “For this project, there were many unexpected delays, including a water tank that discharged water under the gym’s floors and a contractor accidentally cutting the electrical conduits. To address these unplanned situations, requests for additional funds and contract modifications were needed.”
But the delays might continue.
“Earlier this year, the department made modifications to the project to address unanticipated ground water intrusion and was awaiting county approval of an electrical permit for related work,” Carlson said. “The flooring material is ready to be installed, but unfortunately the roof to the gym has developed a leak, which could jeopardize the new wood floors. We are working with DAGS to repair the roof and working with the contractor to see if a phased installation is possible. Installation will proceed as prudently as possible, which may entail a short delay until the roof leak can be addressed.”
DAGS, or the Department of Accounting and General Services, handles the repair and maintenance for schools on Hawaii Island and other neighboring islands.
Without having a gym of its own to use, Honma said the school has been “struggling,” but it’s fortunate the county Parks and Recreation Department helped. Athletic home games and practices, as well as assemblies, have been hosted at the nearby Honokaa Sports Complex gym, and graduation has been there the past two years, she said.
It’s “really difficult to have that real good home court feel,” Honma said, but Parks and Recreation has been “so awesome” allowing the school to use the complex facilities.
“At least we have a place to go, so we got to appreciate that, but it is difficult,” she said.
Sharing the facilities also puts a strain on the community because high school teams practice there while at the same time Parks and Recreation has its own needs, Honma said. Adults in the community also like to use the complex facilities.
While she’s not sure when the school can get back into the armory, “at least there’s movement. They’re working on it,” she said.
Athletic Director Keith Tolentino said without a gym, “we don’t have school assemblies, we don’t have school dances in there, the P.E. department (doesn’t) get to go in there and play when it rains or anything like that.”
Students always ask when the gym is going to be done, he said.
“We’re excited,” Tolentino said. “Once we see the floor go down and everything, we know it’s going to finish.”
Boys basketball head coach Jayme Carvalho, who also works as a Parks and Recreation district supervisor for recreation, said he is “overexcited and waiting for the gym to reopen so we can actually have the first home game (there) in three years.”
Physically and mentally grueling, the situation has been difficult on the coaching staff and players, “but we’re trying to find solutions and not give excuses,” he said.