A $20,000 movable, digital sign that provided opening and closing times and other information at the popular Makapu‘u Lighthouse trailhead in the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline park was severely damaged by vandals Sunday night, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced in a release Tuesday afternoon.
Both taillights on the mobile sign’s trailer base were smashed, both tires were slashed, the solar panels that powered it were cracked “by a rock or other sharp, heavy object,” the release said, and its control panel box was bent “as the vandal tried unsuccessfully to open it.”
Further incidents of vandalism could lead to park entrance restrictions and possible closure, the announcement said.
It will cost $15,000-$20,000 to repair the sign versus $15,000-$16,000 to get a new sign, DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison said in an email Wednesday.
The Kaiwi culprits may have had their vehicles locked inside the trail parking lot after the park closed, said Creighton “Ua” Mattoon of the DLNR Division of State Parks O‘ahu crew in the statement.
“This sign clearly displayed the parking lot closing times for anyone walking up the trail,” Mattoon said. “Apparently, someone had their car locked in and decided to take their anger out on State property.”
If vehicles remain within the parking lot when the gate at the entrance is locked after closing time, notices are placed on windshields informing owners to come back when the park reopens in the morning to retrieve their vehicles, the release said.
Other recent damage at the Makapu‘u site has included two different times when $115 locks on the gate were destroyed, DLNR said.
“It seems as COVID drags on, people are becoming more fatigued and angrier,” said State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter, who for months locked the gates at Kaiwi early on weekends to cut management costs during the pandemic.
During the hour or so it took him to clear the park at night, “visitors seemed appreciative and thankful to just be able to be experiencing the outdoors,” Carpenter said.
He added he sometimes had to lock people in, “but there were no incidents,” and warned such “counterproductive behavior and may ruin this experience for all.”
The release said that State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell, Carpenter, and Mattoon believe “residents are the likely culprits, as there are few visitors in Hawaii at this time.”
The agency urged that anyone who witnesses vandalism or destruction in Hawai‘i State Parks should immediately call 9-1-1 or the DLNR Hotline at 643-DLNR.
For more information, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/.