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Community Center Re-opens

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Community members visit the Mitchell Pauole Center after renovations. Photo by Catherine Cluett.

After being closed for renovations for almost a year, Kaunakakai’s community facility, the Mitchell Pauole Center, reopened with a blessing last week. The center now features a new 2,826-square-foot covered lanai for performances and gatherings, upgraded kitchen and bathrooms, new flooring, paint and other improvements. The facility was also brought into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessible design.

“It’s the gathering spot, the artery of Molokai,” said newly appointed County Parks and Recreation Director Kaala Buenconsejo. “This is probably the nicest community center in Maui County right now.”

Buenconsejo said additional work is planned for the Mitchell Pauole Center. The aging roof will be replaced, he said, and funding has already been appropriated.

During his term as Parks Director, he said he and his team will “look forward to bringing Molokai back where it should be.”

Molokai Councilmember Stacy Crivello expressed gratitude to her fellow councilmembers for their support of the project.

“It feels really good,” she said of the completed improvements. “It’s nice to walk on the floors and not worry if you’re going to fall,” she joked. “We don’t have to worry about putting up easy-ups [for events]… May the message go out to Molokai that we will malama what we have been given.”

Total cost of the improvements was $1,327,000. In addition to ADA compliance, the kitchen now has upgraded appliances, counters, shelving, plumbing fixtures, flooring and paint. In the main hall, there’s new energy-efficient lighting and ceiling fans, new paint, flooring and exit doors. The restrooms feature upgraded fixtures, partitions, restroom accessories, flooring and paint.

Many also mentioned the removal of a shed near the center that had been called an eyesore for years.

“I’ll miss the shed ‘cause that’s where I used to hide!” joked Councilmember Mike Victorino. He said he remembered when he first came to the council eight years ago and former Molokai councilmember Danny Mateo asked for help getting the money for the facility’s improvement.

Mateo, now working as county clerk, beamed with pride as he spoke of the journey to accomplish that goal.

“I believe our people deserve everything we can give them…” he said. “Projects like this make me really proud. It is absolutely a dream come true.”

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