Hilo High gym project slowed


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Cost overruns and trouble acquiring some materials have delayed completion of Hilo High School’s new gymnasium.

But, with just a few minor additions to be completed, the end of the road is now in sight, say project managers.

“We’ve had a little bit of trouble getting structural steel for the multipurpose room,” said Rick Case, project superintendent with Maui-based F&H Construction. “But the gym is almost complete. The scoreboards are hanging up, and we have the backboards and scoreboards up as well.”

Since before the gymnasium was even a drawing on a piece of paper, it has met with delays, largely due to trouble procuring state funding. Once plans were completed, last-minute changes were also required to update the structure so that it could serve double-duty as a shelter for community residents in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane.

Construction on the plot of land makai of the high school’s track off of Waianuenue Avenue began in September 2012, and project managers initially anticipated the building would be ready for use a year later. But negotiations between the Department of Education and F&H slowed down the building process, Case said.

“There were some issues with the acceleration of costs. We bid this job three years ago, and we’ve been trying to negotiate over those costs,” he said.

Initially, the cost for the project was bid at $9,532,000, said Robert Purdie Jr., the DOE’s acting Public Works manager for construction.

“The current adjusted cost, including change orders for improvements or enhancements, or covering escalation of costs due to delays and the delay in permitting, is currently at $11,127,394,” he said.

The plans for the 23,000-square-foot building include a gym with bleacher seating for 1,376, with direct access to a first aid room, storage and public restrooms. Across the lobby area from the main gymnasium will be a ticket booth and concession booth, along with boys and girls locker and shower rooms.

The second floor above the locker/shower facilities includes a wrestling room and weight training room, as well as an athletic director’s office, conference room and storage area. A covered pedestrian bridge will connect the main campus to the building at the second level.

On Monday, Case said that the bridge was largely complete, only awaiting its roofing.

Apart from the main gymnasium section of the building, workers have had to hold off on putting up drywall until they receive a shipment of structural steel to complete the roofing.

“We don’t want for the rain to get that drywall wet and then have to replace it,” he said.

Windows are set to be installed in the gymnasium in two weeks, he said.

“The plan is to get everything — the metal siding, framing, roofing — done, and then we can start all the site work. We’ve already got the underground site work complete, the sewers, storm drains, all of that is complete. All that’s left is to do the curbing and gutters and paving,” he said.

If all goes according to plan, Case hopes to have the project complete by June 1, in time for a July launch to the volleyball season.

Meanwhile, Ka‘u residents are slated to see their new district gym/shelter ready to open for operation in spring 2014.

The $16.9 million state-funded project will encompass 42,000 square feet.

That project also met with delays early on, including the discovery of a burial site within a lava tube, halting construction until a burial treatment plan could be enacted.

The new building will include athletic courts, recreation and multipurpose rooms, restrooms, lobby, concession area, storage rooms, a locker and shower room and an athletic training room.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


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