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Community Center Improvements Nearing Completion

Kaunakakai’s community facility, the Mitchell Pauole Center, remains closed for renovations but its completion is near.

“The bulk of the work is done,” said Brianne Savage, interim parks director for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which is in charge of the project. “We’re pushing [for reopening] as soon as we can.”

Construction began at the end of March, and was slated to be finished this December. Savage said she hopes the facility will be ready ahead of schedule. No official completion date has yet been set.

The renovations — which include an additional freestanding covered lanai, kitchen and restroom improvements, and wheelchair accessibility upgrades to current Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards – are budgeted at over $1 million.

Those smaller improvements still left to be completed include finishing the restrooms and making adjustments to the drainage system, Savage said.

Since construction has been going on, the Mitchell Pauole Center – the largest and one of the only community facilities in Kaunakakai — has been closed to community events and public use. Meetings and events normally scheduled for the space have been shifted in the meantime to various other facilities around the island.

The discussion for the need for improvements began several years ago, according to community leaders who testified in favor of the project. The new covered lanai, located east of the facility in the previously open lawn, will provide shade and eliminate the need to erect as many easy-ups at community events.

“Personally, I feel this is something that is needed,” County Councilperson Stacy Crivello said at a Molokai Planning Commission meeting last year. “We don’t have that many [community] facilities, but I hope that what we have, we can extend their use for future generations.”

Savage said in addition to the improvements, the department also plans to demolish and remove the maintenance building in front of the community center that many consider an eye-sore. She said the goal is to complete the demolition before the rest of the construction is completed, though it may not take place before the facility re-opens because she doesn’t want it to delay use of the Mitchell Pauole Center.

“Ultimately we want to get the facility reopened for the community,” said Savage.

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