State pool project raises money concerns - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State pool project raises money concerns

Peter Rosegg Peter Rosegg

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The historic building at the corner of Richards and Hotel streets houses the Hawaii State Art Museum and other state offices. But soon one of its original elements will be gone.

"We're going to fill in the pool and we're going to do some work around the pool area," Peter Rosegg said.

Rosegg is Oahu commissioner for the State Foundation on Culture and the arts.

He said the state will soon turn the old swimming pool in the building's courtyard into a sunken seating area.

"So an area that's not completely accessible, that can't be used, is going to be open to the public and be full of sculpture," he said..

The pool was built in 1928. The building belonged to the armed forces YMCA, then private owners before the state took over in 1990.

It made the pool off-limits but still spends $10,000 a year to clean it.

"It's blocked off so people can't get to it," Rosegg said. "If anybody were to fall in, there's no life guard. There's no safety equipment."

The state's spending $1.5 million on the pool project.

Jaime Story of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii said it's a waste of money.

"It's ill-timed because our state legislators are looking so hard for places to cut the budgets in core services. So for the state to turn around and spend $1.5 million on a project that could have taken place anytime in the past ten or fifteen years just appears irresponsible," she said.

"The money is not general fund money. It comes from construction and it has to be spent on works of art or projects like this. It can't be spent on other things," Rosegg said.

Rosegg said the courtyard revitalization will create construction jobs.

Planners said the renovation will boost business at the buildings café and museum store.

The conversion of the pool begins in August and should take seven months to complete.

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