Jurisdictional issues stall Maunalua Bay restroom repairs

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents and businesses use Maunalua Bay on a daily basis, but when they need relief, the options are slim.

The bay's only restroom has been boarded up since February 2010 because of an outdated cesspool system.

The facility can re-open once it gets connected to the main wastewater system, but that's easier said than done.

"There's a multiple series of things because actually the project was pretty simple," said Chris Takashige, director of the city's Department of Design and Construction. "Once we got everything set, we started on the design. The design only took us four months."

Takashige says the rest of the time was spent surveying and seeking permission to go through with the project.

To hook up with a sewer line across the street, the city has to intrude on a state-run highway and private property owned by Bishop Estate.

"If everything is on city property, I think it is a lot easier," Takashige said. "It goes a lot smoother, but when you have to deal with these other property owners, then it becomes more difficult."

The ordeal has been especially been difficult for regular users of the bay.

Each Independence Day, thousands turn out for a Fourth of July fireworks show.

The event is already on a tight budget, but it becomes even tougher when organizers have to pay for more portable toilets.

"They sort of said it would be done by this fourth of July, but obviously that's not going to happen," said Dianne Glei, chairperson of 'Independence Day at Maunalua Bay.' "It is just very inconvenient to not be able to use the restrooms and have the hand washing sink and all of that."

The contract for the repairs officially begins this week and the company has until mid-December to finish the job.

However, residents say they've already waited too long.

"For us locals, we know where to go, but for tourists, it is kind of embarrassing to have a restroom closed," said Laurel Lehmann, a Honolulu resident who runs past the bay regularly. "And to have that port-a-potty, it looks really horrible."

City officials say they are unsure as to when actual construction work will begin on the project, but once it does, it is expected to last about two months.

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