State plans to reopen Kakaako parks Monday
December 16, 2017 | 79° | Check Traffic

Hawaii News

State plans to reopen Kakaako parks Monday

  • DENNIS ODA / OCT. 12

    The parks were closed Oct. 9 to repair vandalized plumbing and electrical poles. Garett Kamemoto, HCDA spokesman, pointed to a damaged faucet as he surveyed the parks earlier this month.

The state plans to reopen Kewalo Basin Park, the two Gateway parks and the Point Panic area of Kakaako Waterfront Park on Monday, three weeks after clearing the parks of large homeless encampments.

The rest of Waterfront Park will remain closed indefinitely to address health and safety issues, said Garett Kamemoto, a spokesman for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which manages the parks.

The parks were closed Oct. 9 to repair vandalized plumbing, electrical poles and damaged grass.

State sheriff’s deputies Oct. 8 cleared out an estimated 180 homeless people living illegally in Kakaako Waterfront Park and others in the area, while social service workers offered to help connect them with shelters and other programs.

But it is unclear how the state will keep the encampments from growing again.

When asked whether there would be greater monitoring of the parks, Kamemoto said, “We’re hoping to get more consistent enforcement of park closure hours.”

Toni Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety Sheriff Division, which is charged with enforcement at the parks, said the agency will be working with HCDA and others between now and Monday to come to a resolution.

“In the meantime, sheriffs will continue to conduct frequent patrols of the Kakaako area throughout the day and night as part of their normal procedure,” she said. “This includes advising anyone they see in the parks of the closure hours and making a reasonable request for individuals to leave the park.”

Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said, “There are no changes planned on HPD’s side. Our officers will continue to respond to situations requiring an immediate response.”

Before Monday the state plans to take down four light poles badly corroded due to salt spray at Kewalo Basin Park; it has fixed an irrigation malfunction that caused ponding, Kamemoto said. Workers have also repaired irrigation systems at the Gateway parks and are trying to regrow damaged grass.

The state has yet to fix damaged light poles with exposed wiring, broken sprinklers and water fountains, and damaged bathrooms at Waterfront Park.

“We’re not going to go for pristine and perfect. We’re trying to make it minimally safe,” Kamemoto said. “Some of the lights might not be powered up. Lights around the paths will probably be on, but we haven’t made that decision yet.”

Homeless people who fill the parks have been blamed for a series of dog attacks, fires and vandalism that the state estimates will cost $500,000 to repair.

“Once the park opens, anybody’s welcome in the park, but when the park is closed, everybody should leave,” Kamemoto said. “We can issue notice of violations and ask people to leave the park. We’ll continue to look for ways to address these problems.”

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