In select cases, the partnership of private entities with the city on the care of public parks shows real promise. These would be the cases in which that private partner has its own interest in keeping the park in good condition.
So far, about a half-dozen of these entities have stepped up to help with maintenance. An agreement has been struck, for example, with the YMCA of Honolulu to provide $1.7 million for improvements at Kamamalu Neighborhood Park, next to the Nuuanu Y. That paid for a new restroom, 150-stall parking lot (with meters to deter use by nearby downtown office workers), restriping of the old lot, landscaping and better lighting. This does make sense: The Nuuanu branch uses the park about half the year, YMCA officials said.
And at Aala Park, American Savings Bank did open its new $100 million headquarters in Chinatown, and as part of that launch early this year, conducted community cleanups and a park upgrade. The park restroom was renovated, the skate area was repainted, the basketball court was resurfaced.
Those investments clearly benefit the partners, as well as the public. Rotary Club of Honolulu, building the pocket park in Waikiki out of an old scrub lot? That’s a logical community project for the service organization, based nearby.
The public can be grateful for the help, of course, but it does raise the concern: Might the city become too dependent on this burden-sharing? Taxes are paid for this purpose, after all.