Liliha park repair hits 5 years and counting


POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2009

For five years, Liliha residents have been waiting for an upgraded Kunawai Springs Urban Park.

; They are still waiting.

“;It just seems like nobody cares, and that's so bad,”; said Carl Mossman, who lives in a condominium across the street from the park.

Residents complain of an unsafe environment created by the construction equipment, along with the neglected playground equipment, which is either broken or spray-painted with graffiti.

“;It's a bad place for the kids,”; Mossman said.

Area residents first came up with the idea of improving the park in 2004, and $600,000 was earmarked in 2006 for park repairs, including replacing the roof of the park restrooms.

But when construction began in December, workers discovered the restroom building was not up to code. It was torn down this month.

The park remains in a dilapidated condition—there is no electricity or water and most of the area is cordoned off with orange construction mesh.

City officials said its unclear how long it will take to improve the park, or if the restrooms will be replaced.

According to Councilman Rod Tam, who represents the area, current city standards require that mini and neighborhood parks such as Kunawai provide only “;basic needs,”; which don't include a restroom.

Tam said the current city budget includes $200,000 to plan and design a new restroom for the park. But some in the community, he said, oppose new restrooms, believing that criminals could loiter there.

On June 8 the Liliha/Puunui/Alewa/Kamehameha Heights Neighborhood Board unanimously adopted a resolution asking the city for a restroom and other improvements, including new playground equipment and the restoration of a small pond.

“;We just hope that the park finally gets some attention,”; said Robert Stubbs, the neighborhood board chairman. “;It's a small park, but it's used regularly by the members of community in that area.”;

Craig Nishimura, director of the city's Department of Design and Construction, declined to say how much the city has spent so far on the project.

He said the city is still negotiating with contractor MJ Construction over the building of a wheelchair ramp and the extra cost of tearing down the restroom.

“;The park used to be nice, but I don't know when they started to repair this,”; said Kamehameha Heights resident Albert Makekau, who brought his wife and granddaughter to the park. “;I just want (the city) to repair this place to make it nice like how it used to be.”;