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County Seeks Input on South Maui Gym Plans

What kind of space and activities are important to the community?

May 30, 2013
Don Couch - South Maui Representative | Maui County Council ( , Maui Weekly

A new gymnasium is being planned for Kihei as part of an expansion proposal for the South Maui Community Park. Kihei's newest park, located makai of Pi'ilani Highway near Kihei Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate schools, has already become a popular area for our island residents and visitors. With soccer and baseball fields, a walking trail, playground, grilling pits and night lighting, the park is accessible to everyone.

The Kihei gymnasium will encourage healthy activities for the island's keiki, as well as adults.

Free county-sponsored programs like the South Maui Youth Basketball League will have the benefit of playing indoors on well-lit courts that are not exposed to the elements. These leagues are an integral part of youth development, promoting teamwork and communication. With around 500 island-wide participants ranging in age from 5 to 14, the basketball league teams currently play outdoors. Weather conditions, along with traffic noise, make it difficult on the kids and their parents watching in the stands.

Running on the outdoor asphalt is harder on sports players of all ages, and night games have limited visibility with outdoor lighting. Use of the new gym will allow youth and adult leagues throughout the island to play more comfortably, and various organizations will be able to plan tournaments. Additional activities, such as boxing, tai chi, dance and table tennis will also be made possible with the new space.

Several design options for the gym (Phase 1B of the existing park) and extended outdoor recreational space (Phases 2 and 3) are being discussed, and the county needs community input as we move forward with the project.

Budgeting options for the expansion range up to $10 million. The original concept, budgeted for around $3 million, would include a regulation gym with bleacher seating for 500 to 1,000 spectators for court sports like youth and adult basketball, volleyball and badminton. Three classrooms of varied sizes would hold activities such as arts and crafts, wrestling, martial arts and gymnastics. There would be a meeting room and a basic concession stand, as well as an area for a youth center.

The indoor space could also be used for concerts and community events.

Phase 2 and 3 expansion of the outdoor recreational area would include additional fields for soccer, football, softball and baseball, and an outdoor amphitheater, basketball courts, tennis courts and a parking lot.

Designs in the higher budget range would include more gym spectator capacity with seating for up to 3,000, more indoor court space with a main basketball court and two cross courts, a covered entry lobby and added multi-purpose rooms. The larger gym would have approximately 20,000 square feet of building space, public restrooms, shower and locker rooms, a state Department of Health-approved kitchen with a concession area, air conditioning and a photovoltaic system.

An expanded indoor space would allow for bigger sporting events, concerts and other activities that require added seating capacity. More square footage would open up new possibilities for South Maui, including the Maui Invitational basketball competitions currently held at Lahaina Civic Center.

A bigger building, however, would require added parking, and will affect the outdoor field space design in Phases 2 and 3 A larger gym, then, will mean a few less fields for the expansion phases.

Whether the gym is designed as the budgeted basic regulation size or we look toward a plan with more square footage, everyone will benefit from this proposed expansion.

Kihei is one of the only areas on Maui without a gymnasium. This project is an important addition to our community, and we're excited to be a part of the planning underway.

County Recreation Leader Kaeo Ah Sau, with over 19 years of county experience in the South Maui District, summed it up best: "That area is definitely in need of a gym. The day we can see the kids come in the look on their faces, knowing they're not going to be playing in the hot sun with cars honking their horns. Their faces will light up. It's a good feeling."

So, the question is what does the community want? What kind of space and activities are important to you?

I am giving my input to the design as your South Maui Council member, and I'd like to hear from the community your opinions and suggestions for the project. Please call me at 270-7108 or email me at

As always, my office door is open and I welcome your input.



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