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HPP’s Loss is Pahoa’s Gain – $22.3 Million Dollar Pahoa Park “In a Nutshell”

Mahalo to Councilman Paleka’s Assistant Nadia Malloe for following up on my question as to why the Pahoa Park has inflated from $5 million dollars to $22.3 million dollars and she got this answer:

Pahoa Park ExpansionAfter inquiring with Hawaii County Parks and Recreation (P&R), the following was shared:

P&R designs 4 types of parks, listed by size/capacity:

  • NEIGHBORHOOD Park – typically designed to meet the needs of neighborhood, such as University Heights
  • COMMUNITY Park – typically designed for small neighborhood communities, such as Isaac Hale and Hawaiian Beaches
  • DISTRICT Park* – typically designed to meet the needs of an entire district population capable for islandwide attractions, such as Pāhoa Park
  • REGIONAL Park* – typically designed to meet the needs of a specific region, usually a larger scale in comparison to a district park, such as Old Ace Park in Kona
    *Swimming pools are only allowed in DISTRICT and REGIONAL Parks.

Approximately 10 years ago, it became very apparent that Puna is a rapidly growing community. Thus, in efforts to meet the recreational needs in this geographic area, the administration of P&R proposed building a 20-acre community park in Hawaiian Paradise Park, with an estimated cost of $5.5 million.

At the time this $5.5 million project was being proposed in 2010-2012, area residents were strongly in opposition of this project due to concerns relating to traffic, safety and privacy of area residents, fee simple ownership, etc. P&R did not want to impose this project where it was not wanted. Thus, P&R began to look at other solutions to our rapidly growing Puna community.

In Pāhoa, the geographical heart of Puna, a district park already existed with 56 acres of land not yet developed. Since County P&R already had an established district park, it would ease the process as no land acquisition nor eminent domain was necessary to move forward.

This district park expansion is the most expensive project in P&R history and its being granted to not just Puna, but the geographical heart and center of Puna. There will be multiple benefits such as reducing criminal activity, promoting healthy living, creating a safer community, potential revenue for Puna, area residents and vendors.

P&R can offer more programs, engaging families, elderly, and persons with disabilities as well. In fact, according to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, in the past 4 years, juvenile crime decreased approximately 52%, thanks to the hard work and dedication from our County Parks and Recreation Dept. The projected completion of this project is as soon as next month or early September.

In a nutshell, basically the proposed project went from a small community park in HPP to a large district park in Pāhoa. For a price comparison, the amount of money the State spent to build the ONE new gym at Pāhoa High School, can build FIVE of our County gyms.

Nan Inc. provided me with the following aerial footage of the park being built:

Questions Answered About New Pahoa Park Plans

The new park that is being built in Pahoa is going up rather quickly and some folks in the community had some questions about the park so I emailed Department of Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Jason Armstrong some questions and got a reply from him today on these questions.
Pahoa Regional ParkPBR Hawaii is the firm that appears to be handling most of the construction design at the park.  You can learn more about the project on their website here:  Pahoa Park Expansion Master Plan

I took this picture yesterday from the backside of the skate park:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here are the questions and answers that I received from Armstrong:

How many people will P&R hire to maintain and operate Pahoa District Park?

Three; two park  caretakers (who mostly likely will be existing employees transferred from other sites) and one recreation technician. P&R is now in the recruiting phase for the rec. tech. position. We anticipate filling this position by August 1, 2016.

What will be the park hours?

Operating hours will be set by the Director. Typically, park hours are 6 am – 11 pm daily. The pool, senior center, skate park,  community center and new covered play courts (gym) likely will have different hours, however, based on patron demand and the need to have personnel onsite to operate those facilities.

Will the park have a security gate?

Yes

How many new parking stalls are being added?

373 new stalls, including 21 ADA-compliant stalls

What is the expected opening date?

No specific date has been set; we estimate opening in late August or early September of this year

Is the skate park part of the park?

Yes

If anyone is really interested in looking at all the documents related to this new park you can click here to read the 641 page Environmental Assessment that was put together in 2013 before the June 27th Lava Flow almost took out the whole project all together.

Click to read

Click to read

Construction Resumes On $22.3 Million Pahoa District Park

Fulfilling the County of Hawai‘i’s pledge to expand healthy recreational opportunities for the families of Lower Puna, construction on the $22.3 million Pāhoa District Park has resumed.

Pahoa Park RenderingPark construction was paused in 2014 due to a rapidly advancing lava flow threatening Pāhoa. After the lava flow threat level was downgraded, and after consultation with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, the park project was given the green light to resume.

“Our commitment to the families of Puna remains strong,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “One of our priorities has always been to create more safe places for our kids to stay active and healthy. In collaboration with our Hawai‘i County Council, we are pleased to move forward with this project that will provide access to positive recreation for Hawai‘i Island’s fastest-growing communities.”

When complete, this 29-acre first phase of the Pāhoa District Park will include a covered play court building, two baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, a playground, concession building, comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking. These features will complement Pāhoa’s existing recreational facilities that include the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center, Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, and Pāhoa Skate Park.

The park is also adjacent to the Pāhoa Senior Center, which reverted to its previous use as a fire station during the lava flow threat. That facility is currently being converted back into a senior center, housing senior activities for kūpuna in Lower Puna.

The Puna Community Development Plan, adopted by the Hawai‘i County Council in 2008, identified the need for a district park in Lower Puna. A comprehensive planning process involving the community, the County, and project designers began in 2012 to ensure these new facilities reflect the recreational needs of Puna’s residents.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at (808) 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.

Groundbreaking Held for $22.3 Million Pahoa District Park

The biggest single investment in recreational opportunity in Hawai‘i County history is coming to Lower Puna, following a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the $22.3 million Pāhoa District Park.

Photo Op

Photo Op

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Councilmembers Greggor Ilagan and Zendo Kern and County officials joined members of the Puna community to kick off the project, which will provide more recreational opportunities than ever before to the fastest growing region of Hawai‘i Island.

“We are committed to giving the families of Puna access to first-class recreational opportunities,” said Mayor Kenoi. “The facilities in this park will be safe places for our kids to learn good sportsmanship and teamwork, and to stay active and healthy.”

This $22.3 million, year-long project to deliver a district-level park to Lower Puna will include a covered playcourt building, two baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas. Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site immediately.

“This wonderful sports facility is going to really, truly benefit our children,” said Kel Lee, president of the Puna Panthers Pop Warner Football Association. “It’s a dream come true for Pāhoa.”

“Building this park, making this a better place for our children, is a collaborative effort,” said Councilmember Zendo Kern, who represents District 5 (Puna Mauka) and remembers playing in the existing Pāhoa Park as a youngster. “It was never a matter of if, and now it’s a matter of getting it done.”
Pahoa Park Rendering

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing facilities that include the Pāhoa Community Aquatic Center, Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, Pāhoa Senior Center, and Pāhoa Skate Park.

“This park will be a place for our community to play, bond, and build memories for generations to come,” said Councilmember Greggor Ilagan, who represents District 4 (Puna Makai).

The Puna Community Development Plan, adopted by the Hawai‘i County Council in 2008, identified the need for a district park in Lower Puna. A comprehensive planning process involving the community, the County, and project designers WCIT Architecture began in 2012 to ensure these new facilities reflect the recreational needs of Puna’s residents.

Pāhoa District Park Project Groundbreaking to Be Held July 31

A public groundbreaking ceremony for the Pāhoa District Park project will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 31, at the park.

Pahoa Park Rendering

Join Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Council members Greggor Ilagan and Zendo Kern, Parks Director Clayton Honma, and other dignitaries as they signify the start of the biggest recreational project in Hawai‘i County history. The $22.3 million, yearlong construction project will more than double the size of Pāhoa Park and deliver increased recreational opportunities to one of Hawai‘i Island’s fastest-growing communities.

Refreshments and light pupu will be served.

Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site on August 4. During the following 12 months, it will construct a covered play court building, two lighted baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, one of which will be lighted for nighttime use, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas.

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing 15 acres of developed recreational facilities that include a 50-meter swimming pool, community center, senior center, and skate park.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.