Ground Broken Today for Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter

An estimated 150 people (including a few dozen Ka‘ū High students) participated in the ground blessing for the Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter this morning on the school campus.

The 43,000 square foot gymnasium and multi-purpose facility will be situated upon approximately five acres of the Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary School campus. It is a State of Hawai‘i and County of Hawai‘i joint-funded effort managed by the County of Hawai‘i and is the result of collaborative planning design effort among the community, the Department of Education, Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary Administration and staff, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Public Works.


Artists rendition

Representative Herkes remarked, the seven-year effort was made possible due to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s willingness for County of Hawai‘i to take over the project.

“This project is a result of a community coming together and encouraging the government to make it happen,” commented Mayor Kenoi.  He added, “There is no higher priority than creating a pu‘uhonua, a safe haven for our children. Congratulations to this beautiful community.”

We had a beautiful groundbreaking this morning for the Kaʻū District Gym and Shelter with Governor Neil Abercrombie, members of our Legislature, and the Department of Education, as well as the County Council and the Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation. They all came together to bring this project closer to reality for the people of Kaʻū. I look forward to the blessing and opening about a year and a half from now! Mahalo for everyone’s hard work! (via Mayor Kenoi’s Facebook page)

The gymnasium provides for three NCAA regulation basketball courts (or, NCAA regulation volleyball courts) with retractable athletic curtains between each court to allow for simultaneous multisport use with minimal disruptions.

Accessory spaces include a certified kitchen with concession counters; ticket windows; meeting room; a community recreation room; interior and exterior public restrooms; two sets of locker/shower rooms; DOE Athletic Trainer’s office, conference room and training room; Parks and Recreation staff office; an American Red Cross emergency supplies room; and miscellaneous storage and support rooms.

Governor Abercrombie said to the audience, “This is going to be the symbol of the new Ka‘ū.”

Construction for the $17 million Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter is scheduled to begin in 30 days.

The gymnasium and multipurpose facility are both designed to meet the Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area classification for hurricane shelters; its performance objective is to remain operational during and after a 500 to 100-year hurricane event, or a Category 3 Hurricane with 155 mph peak gusts.  The two structures will be capable of serving 1,928 individuals as a shelter though it is anticipated that more could be accommodated when necessary.

When the vog condition in the area reaches a level of concern, the facilities will serve as a designated vog shelter featuring a specialized air filtration system that can accommodate 325 persons for extended periods.  More people may be accommodated if necessary for shorter duration stays.

Uncle Bobby Gomes, a well-respected member of the community was called upon by Sharon Beck, Ka‘ū High and Pāhala Elementary School principal to bless the area.  With tears in his eyes, he said, “For the people of this community, we can be proud of ourselves because when we unite… look at what we accomplish.”


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