MOANALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A long-awaited project to re-do Moanalua High School's main athletic field has been delayed for two years because of problems obtaining city and state permits.
The Department of Education got the funding for the project four years ago and that thrilled Arnold Martinez, the head football coach for the last 11 years.
"As you can see, the field, overall, is not in suitable playing condition," Martinez said. "This isn't grass. This is weed clumps, as you can see."
There are large chunks of brown dirt exposed in the middle of the field and uneven ruts and pot holes all over.
And when it rains, the field turns into a swamp.
"You'll see algae and mosquitoes and bugs growing in the water, that's how horrible it is," Martinez said.
The Department of Education awarded a $1 million contract to re-do the field starting in December of 2012, scheduling the project to begin right after football season to displace the least amount of student activity.
"The permitting process in either of the counties in this state is cumbersome for a reason. But it takes time to get through those and we missed a few marks on those," said Ray L'Heureux, assistant superintendent for the Department of Education's Office of School Facilities and Support Services.
L'Heureux said the DOE ran into delays getting a runoff permit from the state Department of Health in the fall of 2012.
Since school officials didn't want a delayed start date to displace marching band and football practice over the summer so they postponed the project for another year and it was supposed to begin right after football season again last year, but they ran into delays getting that same runoff permit again as well as a city grading permit.
School officials began planning for the possibility of relocating football and marching band practices and graduation in May, because the delayed start of the project would have meant the earliest completion date would have been in late August.
Moanalua has one of the best high school marching bands in the state.
So DOE officials decided to put off the project a second time for a second year.
"We could basically put a shovel in the dirt tomorrow, but if you extend that project out through the summer they lose football practice, they lose band practice, they lose a lot of functionality that they use that field for, naturally," L'Heureux said.
Robin Martin, Moanalua's principal, said, "We came to a spot where it was going to impact the marching band and football this year. And that was not acceptable."
With that delay, graduation won't have to move from the school's home field to Aloha Stadium, Martin said.
Now the project is set to begin next November and is supposed to be done by next May, in time for the class of 2015's commencement ceremonies.
Scott Pagano, a 2013 graduate and former Moanalua football player who now plays for Clemson University, is frustrated that two years of permit delays mean students had to keep using this troubled field much longer than they should have. If the project was completed on time, he would have had a new field his senior year.
"Just playing on it every day for practice and games was always tough because there were so many potholes and ditches, people just got injured a lot," Pagano said.
"It's just become a joke now really, honestly, it's kind of ridiculous, right?" said Martinez, who has stepped down as football coach and continues to teach physical education and weight training at Moanalua. "Oh, sorry, 12 months wasn't enough time to get one permit. So now we're starting over again."