Volunteers prep Lydgate campgrounds

WAILUA — Kaua‘i County Council member Tim Bynum said the public has been waiting almost 18 years for camping to be allowed at Lydgate Park.

The idle campground, which may see its first permitted campers by Thanksgiving, was one of the areas being spruced up Saturday during the Kamalani/Lydgate Park work day coinciding with the National Make A Difference Day celebration, said Tommy Noyes, one of the event organizers.

“The County Council passed the bill to allow camping about a month ago,” Bynum said. “Camping could start as early as 60 days from that date. It’s now about 30 days and all we’re waiting for is (Parks and Recreation Director) Lenny Rapozo’s approval.”

The Make A Difference Day work day centered around getting the campground ready, volunteers clearing overgrowth, straightening boundaries of campsites, installing new reflectors and repainting signs in preparation for campers.

“It’s been so long,” said Elle, a volunteer who meticulously worked with several paintbrushes to repaint the site signs. “There is a master sign near the restrooms, but it needs to be replaced too.”

Noyes said the Make A Difference Day in Lydgate Park was a lot of fun and very productive.

“We had 86 volunteers working together to groom Ke Ala Hele Makalae, clear debris from the swimming ponds’ beaches, picking up litter, fixing up the overnight camp sites and assembling and painting 10 new picnic tables for the park,” Noyes said. “We even had visits by Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Council member Tim Bynum and Ed Case, congressional candidate.”

Calvin Paleka, an assistant coach with the Kapa‘a High School football program, and Kevin Cram, a coach with the Kapa‘a High School soccer program, coordinated to have at least 45 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints youth group come out to help.

“I’ve got a football game to attend so I need to leave before 11:30 a.m.,” Paleka said. “But I have my clothes in the car so I can go straight to the game.”

Cram said he had just arrived after officiating a youth soccer game at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Sports Park.

“At least the sports park is close,” Cram said. “But I had to help Sonny Kaona, too, so this works out pretty good.”

Valerie Saiki was one of the coordinators checking in the steady stream of volunteers, noting she’ll do this again next Saturday when the Mokihana Aquatics swimming program does a beach cleanup at Salt Pond on the Westside.

Christy Matsushige, a first-grade teacher at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School in Hanama‘ulu, said the first-grade students have been working with the Rotary Club of Kalepa Sunrise to raise funds for clean water facilities in schools in Mazatlan, Mexico.

“We wanted to do this project in coordination with Make A Difference Day,” Matsushige said in an email. “We will be presenting a check to the Rotary Club at an Oct. 31 assembly.”

Matsushige said one of the good aspects of this project is the Rotary Club of Kalepa Sunrise will double the money the class raises for the project, the Kalepa Rotary Club funds being doubled when the club sends the funds to Rotary International.

Make A Difference Day is celebrated each year on the fourth Saturday in October. Created by “USA Weekend” magazine, it is the nation’s largest day of volunteering with millions of people rallying in a single day to help change the world.

Visit www.makeadifferenceday.com for more information.

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