KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Renovations of Kalaheo High School's tennis courts, behind schedule by almost two years, are finally nearing completion this summer.
The tennis courts at Kalaheo High School sit on a hill above the football and soccer field and they have been surrounded with fences and construction gear for years. The school closed them in 2008 because of an erosion problem and sinkhole on the site.
The $700,500 project was initially scheduled to be completed in October of 2011. Now it's set to be finished by the end of July, in time for the start of school on Aug. 5, a Department of Education spokesman said.
"I just hope they hurry up and kind of complete the project that was started a few years ago," said Darrell Poole, Kalaheo's head football coach, who was interviewed Wednesday afternoon as he was about to start practice for varsity and junior varsity players on the field next to the courts.
Department of Education officials said there are several reasons for the delays.
At the school's request, the tennis courts' surface was changed to an acrylic coating, the DOE said.
The DOE also said the contractor, Integrated Construction, Inc., installed tennis court poles and the top rail without approval and they had to be replaced.
With years of delays, Kalaheo students such as Lopaka Anoai who just graduated in the class of 2013, have never seen the tennis courts in operation during their entire four years on campus.
"Most of the time they've been tearing it down and building it. Yeah, it's still not finished," Anoai said.
DOE officials said with the courts under construction, the Kalaheo tennis team had to practice and play at city tennis courts in Kailua and Kaneohe and on the nearby Marine base.
"I know it's put the tennis program a little bit behind," Poole said.
And Poole added that the prolonged construction has had an impact on other Kalaheo sports, since construction fences, vehicles and supplies take up a portion of the school's main practice field.
"It's become a hindrance because it keeps us from gaining our access to the field. It's kind of taken away from our football field and our practices. And it's not only the football program, it's the soccer program," Poole said.
The DOE said an elevator is also being installed, in a separate project right next to the tennis courts, to provide access for the disabled. DOE spokesman Alex Da Silva did not have a cost estimate for the elevator project.
Da Silva said potential cost increases for the tennis court project will not be available until construction is complete.
A woman who identified herself as the school's registrar approached a Hawaii News Now reporter and cameraman who were shooting video on the campus Wednesday afternoon and told them they needed to check-in in at the school's administrative office and get visitors' passes. A DOE spokesman said the news crew was "breaking protocol" by not checking in at the office, even though they arrived at 3:30 p.m., after normal school hours and during the summer break when classes were not in session.
A few minutes after the crew signed in at the administrative office and received visitor badges, the registrar returned to the reporter and cameraman and told them Kalaheo Principal Susan Hummel, who was on vacation, asked the news crew to leave the campus.
"There's students practicing here and there's no administrator in charge available to address your questions and concerns," the registrar told Hawaii News Now's Keoki Kerr, who protested, saying it was a public facility which was virtually empty because classes were not in session.
Asked if another administrator was available since the principal was on leave, she told him vice principals have the summer off.
The journalists, who had already taken video and interviewed people on the Kalaheo campus, departed a few minutes later.