Banzai Skate Park on Oahu's North Shore was envisioned as a world-class facility that would attract top performers from across the globe.
What skateboarders ended up with was a scaled-back project that went from 11,000 to 7,500 square feet. Even more frustrating, state-of-the-art park builder, Dreamland Skateparks of Oregon, was taken off the job before construction began in 2005. The skate park was eventually designed and built by PER Inc.
"So, it's just kind of a dysfunctional design altogether," said Blake Spinak, a member of a citizens advisory group, which has been lobbying the city for years to make improvements to the park.
With frustration continuing to mount, some Banzai regulars took it upon themselves to build a new pool next to the existing facility. Construction began about four months ago, and has cost about $2,000. The effort has gained grassroots support among the tight-knit skateboarding community on Oahu's North Shore.
"Some kids don't have money you know, but they'll hand you money out of their piggy bank, and it makes you feel great," said Mitchyll Farris, who donated supplies for the pool, deemed illegal by local officials. "Basically, you start out with a little dream, and you get some shovels and start digging."
Since the new pool was never authorized by the city, and builders failed to take out permits, the structure will likely be torn down. The Department of Parks and Recreation issued a notice of violation Tuesday, stating a cement mixer inside the pool will be confiscated if it's not removed within 24 hours.
"(I would) shed a tear for sure," said Farris, when asked how he would react to the pool being torn down. "I don't know if I would feel good about paying taxes anymore."
Meanwhile, young skateboarders who were looking forward to riding the new bowl are disappointed it may be gone before they ever get a chance to drop in.
"It's a shame," said Roxzi Bokolas, a 16-year-old North Shore resident who's been skateboarding at the park for the past year. "They're throwing away all that work, and I'd be sad honestly."
City Spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said there are no plans to immediately demolish the illegal pool. Instead, the city is hoping the 'rogue' builders will tear it down on their own time. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Toni Robinson spoke to the builders Tuesday afternoon, and told them to cease all construction.
"She advised them that work has to stop immediately, and was assured by a member of the group that the work will be stopped," said Broder Van Dyke.
Even if the builders of the unlawful pool are forced to tear it down, skateboarders believe it has opened a new round of dialogue with the city in trying to make Banzai Skate Park a truly world-class facility.
"If anything, it's brought people together and created a larger voice, which is a good thing," said Farris.
An aide to Councilman Ernie Martin told KITV4 that once a driveway and parking area is finished, then the city can begin talks on possible add-ons to the skate park.
The original contract to build the park was pegged at $587,760, but the project experienced another $100,000 in cost overruns.