Monday, July 16, 2001

Marcelo Lopez adjusted sprinklers last week in the
new Central Oahu Regional Park.

First of ‘fields of
dreams’ to open
in Central Oahu

The first 100 acres of the
long-awaited, multi-use sports
park will debut Saturday

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Sports enthusiasts have the same complaint, no matter the sport: There's no place to play in Central Oahu.

They are saying "there aren't enough fields," said Peter Lee, a vice chairman of the city's Central Oahu Regional Park Advisory Committee.

Help is coming. The first phase of what will be Oahu's largest park opens Saturday on land in Waipio once dominated by pineapple.

At 269 acres when it is finished by 2004, Central Oahu Regional Park will be larger than Kapiolani Park and Ala Moana combined, and will be important for some of the state's fastest-growing neighborhoods.

The facility already has been dubbed the "fields of dreams," not only because it was dug out of a pineapple field, but because it caters to many interests.

"This is basically a major regional park for all of Mililani, all of Crestview, all of Waipahu and Wahiawa and as far town-bound as Pearl City," said city Managing Director Ben Lee.

He predicted an opening-day turnout of 5,000 people. He expects it to draw twice that amount on busy weekends.

Anselmo Morales of Nakamura Landscaping, put the
finishing touches on the upper baseball diamond at
the Central Oahu Regional Park.

"Right now, the only big field we play on is Hans L'Orange (in Waipahu), and there are so many leagues going on that it's hard for us to schedule our tournaments there," said Betty Nago, administrator for Oahu Little League's District 7.

It's not just a question of finding available times, Nago said. Oftentimes, uses are simply not compatible, such as a baseball game following a football practice and its spike-shoed players, she said.

The $20.1 million first 100 acres of the new park is expected to alleviate much of the overcrowding. It will contain:

Park's grand opening festivities

A daylong "Sports Fest" will accompany the grand opening of the Central Oahu Regional Park on Saturday.

It will feature a variety of sports events including Little League baseball, youth and senior soccer, and even a semipro football playoff game. There also will be exhibitions featuring lacrosse, rugby, cricket and archery, and a home run derby featuring community leaders and celebrities.

Mayor Jeremy Harris and his Cabinet will be on hand with free watermelon, shave ice, cotton candy and popcorn. There also will be music, keiki game booths and inflatable play equipment. Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa will sign autographs. Others attending the grand opening will include University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso, UH swimming/diving coach Mike Anderson and UH soccer coach Hee Yong Woo.

Festivities will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The formal opening ceremony will begin at 11 a.m.

Ample parking will be available in the park, and six trolleys will run continuously during the festivities to shuttle people around the park.

>> Two grassed baseball fields, each with dugouts, bullpens and seating for as many as 300 fans.

>> Four grassed youth baseball fields, each with dugouts, electric scoreboards and seating for 100.

>> Five multipurpose fields for soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse and other sports.

Future phases will include facilities for swimming, diving, tennis and archery, skateboarding, box-car racing, dog training and ballroom dancing.

It's the diversity of the park that impresses John Wilbur of the Hawaii Harlequins football club.

"It's really planned for the needs of everything from cricket to soccer to rugby to baseball," Wilbur said.

A major goal is to lure professional sports teams to the fields. Several baseball and softball teams from Asia already are interested, Ben Lee said.

Waipahu Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Annette Yamaguchi said it's not just those involved in sports who will benefit from the new park.

"This whole area has never really had an open park," Ya-maguchi said. "From Blaisdell Park all the way past Kapolei, there's no just 'park' kind of place, a place where a family might want to go for a picnic."



100 acres, under construction, expected to be finished by summer 2002:

>> Tennis complex with 18 field courts, a lighted clubhouse court and a lighted show court
>> Archery range with 20 tournament-sized lanes, concrete shooting pad and archery tool shed
>> Fenced dog training area and dog park
>> Skateboard park
>> Community garden
>> Tree farm
>> Two more baseball fields (one lighted)
>> Four softball fields
>> More comfort stations, parking, picnic tables, benches and walking paths


Under design, expected to be done by 2003-2004:

>> Tennis complex with stadium court, four teaching courts, clubhouse and exhibition area
>> Aquatics center with 50-meter racing pool, a diving pool, a children's pool, locker rooms and classrooms
>> Ballroom dancing/community arts center
>> Box-car facility
>> More parking, walking paths, picnic tables and benches

The fall phases include picnic tables, benches and even charcoal disposal containers for those whose athletic prowess leans toward hibachis.

An estimated 1,100 trees of four varieties -- monkeypod, Hong Kong orchid, shower and African tulip -- have been planted for the first phase. There will be more than 3,000 trees when the park is completed.

The first phase also includes more than two miles of walkways and comfort stations on both the town and Mililani ends of the complex.

The property stretches for two miles along Kamehameha Highway from Ka Uka Boulevard to just town-side of Waipio Uka Boulevard, and goes all the way back toward Kipapa Gulch.

The city got the property from Castle & Cooke in 1999 for the 40-acre Manager's Drive property in Waipahu and $6.6 million.

When fully completed, the facility will need about 39 workers to maintain it.

Maintenance of the first phase will require roughly eight groundskeepers and cost about $200,000 annually.

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