State Capitol pools to undergo $24 million renovation

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Capitol’s reflective pools are about to undergo a $24 million renovation. And when it’s finished, there may be no more water in it.

Built in 1969, the State Capitol has for the most part stood the test of time. That is, with the exception of the reflecting pools, which remained dry, and for good reason.

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“The Capitol pools are leaking so badly that we’ve chosen to dig it all out and replace it with new flooring and waterproofing,” Hawaii State Comptroller Curt Otaguro said.

There are two wells which provided water for the pools. Otaguro said one of them started producing brackish water, which had salt water in it, and that’s when the problems started to get worse.

“You can see it in some offices as well as in the basement parking lot. So it is extensive, especially on the Diamond Head side,” he said.

Other problems emerged such as the buildup of algae which drew complaints from the public over the bad smell. Over the years ideas have been floated about what to do with swimming pools.

In 2016, representative Romy Cachola proposed converting them into dancing fountains like those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

“Absolutely yes, because we don’t have dancing water here in Hawaii at all, so it will be the first time and I think we can do it here,” Cachola said.

Otaguro said the plan was to launch the bid in August and replace the flooring at a cost of $24 million. But re-watering may not happen.

“From a practical point of view, it would make sense to minimize the water we have so that we don’t repeat the past 50 years from now,” Otaguro said.

He said one option being considered is to put up artwork that looks like water, which was done to the Capitol District No. 1 building when the pool was removed.

“And it retains the same look and feel, but there’s no water there. So there are many artistic ways to accomplish what I think is the original architecture of this building,” Otaguro said.

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He said the state would seek input from state lawmakers and the public on what would be the best option.

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