Grants benefit Oahu's West Coast
Increasing parking at Leeward parks is key in a $2 million city package
Parking is the hardest thing to find when a family reunion, large luau, Sunset on the Beach or other big event occurs at a city park along the Waianae Coast.
"People park in front yards, along Farrington Highway," said area resident Aimoku McClellan. "You could have 100 people looking for parking."
But that could soon change.
More parking could be in store for Leeward Coast parks as part of a $2 million community benefits package for the region announced yesterday by Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"These are definitely need-to-have projects," the mayor said.
In addition to $1 million in park construction projects, a 10-member committee made up of West Oahu residents also recommended nearly $1 million in grant awards to nonprofit organizations that work with children, the homeless, veterans and others in need.
"I feel good about it. It's a start, like the mayor said," said McClellan, chairman of the committee that began its work last July to evaluate proposals.
Making good on a campaign promise, the mayor said that as long as West Oahu continues to host the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, the homeless and other social impacts, the region is entitled to even more benefits.
"It can't be a one-time thing," said Hannemann, who added that he does not have a dollar amount in mind yet for future benefits funding.
"You've been polite. You've been understanding and I thank you for that," Hannemann told community members gathered for the announcement.
Alan Castillo, partnership development coordinator with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu, said the $25,000 his organization is receiving is already being put to use. They are matching up Waianae and Nanakuli high school students with youngsters from Waianae Elementary for after-school mentoring through musical and cultural activities with help from the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Kamehameha Schools.
"These high school students have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these kids in their community," Castillo said. "It's homework, studies and areas of relationship building or just talking story, arts, crafts and music."
The money also will be used to feed homeless military veterans in Kalaeloa and to provide outreach activities to other down-and-out veterans across Oahu.
"We're very, very excited and very appreciative," said Darryl Vincent, site director of U.S. Vets, which received $37,500. "It will pay for meals, money to outreach teams for little voucher meals."
Vincent said he likes that the grants were given to an array of organizations that do different things for the community.
"It's good to spread it out," Vincent said. "What we do is different. One is not more important than the other."
City Councilman Todd Apo, Budget Committee chairman, also said the benefits will be felt beyond the areas being directly served.
"I think it's going to be something that will have a broader impact than just the Waianae community; I think all of West Oahu and probably even greater areas than that will feel the benefit having these additional funding sources for the nonprofits," Apo said.
Hannemann said he was also pleased with the mix of organizations that received nonprofit grants.
"(The committee) picked a great menu," he said. "They did a wonderful job."
But Hannemann said he especially liked that the committee decided to use the parks money to enhance parking.
"I thought it was great to put it in this mix," Hannemann said.
McClellan said the Leeward beach parks get a tremendous amount of use, and parking was seen as a project with "the biggest impact and the quickest impact ... so parking is seen to us as a vital need."
NONPROFIT GROUPS RECEIVE $1 MILLION FROM CITY
The city set aside about $1 million for grants to nonprofit groups as part of its community benefits package for the Leeward Coast, which also includes money for city park construction projects. The grant recipients are:
Alternative Structures International, $100,000 to renovate Raphael House, a residential community for people with disabilities.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu, $25,000 for mentoring programs for youth.
Hale Kipa Inc., $25,000 for services to homeless youths.
Hawaii Family Services, $25,000 for cultural identification and peer support services for children.
Hawaii Foodbank Inc., $60,500 for Leeward nutrition program.
Helping Hands Hawaii, $61,633 to provide material goods and financial assistance to the needy through the Community Clearinghouse.
Hoa 'Aina O Makaha, $68,365 to replace an outdated water meter and line for a 5-acre agricultural parcel serving children and youths.
Ho'omanu Ke Ola, $85,850 to renovate a 16-bed transitional shelter for the homeless.
Ka'ala Farm Inc., $35,000 for agricultural educational programs in elementary schools.
Kapolei Elementary School, $100,000 to construct shade covering for the school's existing playground.
Ke Ola 'Ana, $21,063 for an acupuncture detoxification program.
Leeward Kai Canoe Club, $15,000 to repair an existing koa canoe.
Salvation Army, $25,000 for transportation services to provide social services.
Stedfast Housing Development Corp., $100,000 for electrical and emergency systems upgrade in a 71-unit residential and supportive services program.
U.S. Vets, $37,500 to provide food assistance for homeless veterans.
Valley of the Rainbows, $60,000 for an educational youth conference and to assist with Sunset on the Beach events.
Waianae Coast Coalition, $30,000 to develop and maintain a community Web site to include information on community resources.
Waianae Coast Christian Women's Job Corps, $82,088 to provide life skills and job skills to the homeless.
Young Women's Christian Association, $33,000 costs related to implementing its family loan program.