(Star-Advertiser) Kokua Line: Oahu swim teams no longer allowed to store own equipment at city pools

(Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Question: Please help myself and many others to understand the apparent change in policy by the city and county that no longer allows swim teams to store their equipment at the pools. These teams, some as long as 50 years, have always been allowed to store their practice and competition equipment at the pools where they train, but are no longer allowed to do so. Has this previous courtesy been abused or not respected, thus leading to the change, or is there some other reason? It has not been explained to the teams or athletes involved.

Answer: No, it doesn’t appear that the previous courtesy was abused. The city says that increasing demands on city pool facilities require it to enforce this policy to be fair to all permitted users, because there isn’t enough storage space for everyone.

Teams may donate equipment to the Department of Parks and Recreation and store it at the pools they use, but the equipment also would be available for use by others, said Nathan Serota, a department spokesman.

Kokua Line first heard about this last summer and presumed then that the problem was temporary, caused by a lack of space because pool closures had increased use at neighboring facilities. However, Serota said Friday that enforcement is permanent and should occur uniformly at all city pools. If you know of city pools where it is not being enforced, or where particular teams are being favored, contact the department, he said.

“If there are people not abiding this at certain pools, we want to know. We do need to be fair,” he said.

In your query you said that teams that formerly stored their competition electronics and other equipment at K. Mark Takai Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Central Oahu were forced to rent storage lockers because they were no longer allowed to keep it on-site. You described the electronics as delicate equipment that was not designed to be moved around so often and that teams risked costly damage by doing so.

Serota said it’s been worked out so that electronic equipment such as timers have been donated to the department and are being stored at the pool, but not flotation devices and other team equipment. Here is his full response:

“The Department of Parks and Recreation does not allow the storage of personal, public items on park grounds or within park facilities. In some cases, organizations and individuals have donated equipment to DPR for use at a specific park, which can be stored on-site. Once donated it is property of DPR, but can be used by various groups or individuals.

“This policy has been active at the K. Mark Takai Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center for some time. In this particular case, there are pieces of electronic equipment, associated with the pool use, that are stored at the facility under the above-mentioned circumstances. There have been requests for storage of other equipment, such as pool exercise equipment, but if it is not the property of DPR then it cannot be stored on-site.

“As the demand for our park facilities continues to increase, it is important that DPR remains committed to being fair and equitable to all park facility users. In this case, we believe we have effectively followed this policy. Mahalo for requesting the clarification, and we hope all users can continue to enjoy this world-class pool facility in Central Oahu.”

Other complaints we’ve received encouraged the city to go back to its former practice of allowing swim teams to store and access their equipment at city pools, rather than strictly enforcing any policy against it. They emphasized that teams didn’t hold the city responsible for safekeeping.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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