Draft Parks Master Plan unveiled

LIHUE — The county Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled Wednesday a draft of the plan that will guide the development of county recreational facilities in years to come.

“We’re looking at a long-range plan that is 10 to 20 years into the future for development and programing of parks and recreation facilities,” said Glenn Kimura, president of Kimura International, the prime contractor that prepared the Draft Parks Master Plan update.

He said the final plan is really meant to be a policy-oriented document, not to provide details of site design or park operations. But in the course of crafting the draft plan, Kimura said he came across big pieces of land where community members wanted to see different county facilities.

“So I just threw in a lot of these conceptual site plans,” he said.

The county’s five districts — Hanalei, Kawaihau, Lihue, Koloa and Waimea — have a total of 584 acres of developed parks, with an additional 234 acres of parks that are undeveloped, according to the draft document.

The draft goes through an extensive list of priorities that were put together after community meetings in all island district, an islandwide survey, input from an eclectic Citizens Advisory Committee and ideas from the consultants themselves. Everything was put through filters before the final draft, Kimura said.

“Basically we’re at the point right now where we produced a draft plan, and I want to emphasize it’s still a draft, we’re still taking comments,” said Kimura, adding that if there are any mistakes, he will come back and fix them.

Some of the proposals included:

•  Hanalei District, a new Wainiha Beach Park, expansion of Blackpot  and Kilauea parks, roof repairs at Kilauea Gym, and upgrades to Waioli Beach (bathrooms) and Waioli Town (basketball court) parks, Hanalei Courthouse (bathrooms, playground) and Hanalei Pavilion (new pavilion, parking).

• In Kawaihau District, proposals include expansion of the multi-use path, a new Kapaa Soccer Field, improvements at Anahola Hawaiian Homes Park (refurbish playground, returf play fields), Gore Park, Kapahi Park (bathrooms, new pavilion), Kapaa New Park (land expansion, new neighborhood center, new gym), Kapaa Town Park, Wailua Houselots Park (tennis court resurfacing) and Wailua Homesteads Park (new pavilion, walking path, dog area, tennis court resurfacing).

The county is also proposing relocating Kapaa Neighborhood Center and the adjacent Kapaa Swimming Pool. The pool facility would be converted into a parking lot or park space.

• For Lihue District, the plan proposes a motocross park in Kalepa, a park at the middle school in Puhi and a coastal park at Ahukini, on lands that were acquired a couple years ago near the airport.

• In Koloa District, the proposals include a new Koloa-Poipu District Park and improvements to Eleele Nani Park (new pavilion, bathrooms), Spouting Horn, Kalaheo Gym, Kukuiula Park (expansion, canoe hale), Koloa Neighborhood Center (expansion), Anne Knudsen Park, Waikomo Park (new pavilion), Weliweli Park (gateball facility) and Poipu Beach Park (expansion, flood study).

• For Waimea District, the plan proposes improvements to Kekaha and Kekaha Faye parks, Waimea Canyon Park, Capt. Cook Park, Waimea Swimming Pool, Ching Park (playground equipment), Lucy Wright Park (upgrade bathrooms, new canoe hale), Kaumakani Gym, Hanapepe Heights Park and Hanapepe Stadium (skate park, new food booth, restrooms).

Kimura said one-third of Kauai’s households have children, which prompted proposals for youth-oriented facilities such as playgrounds, practice fields, sport complexes, skate parks, gyms and soccer fields.

“We are also getting old,” he said.

Seniors 65 and older are in one-third of Kauai households, so the master plan proposes to increase walking paths, senior-oriented indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, according to Kimura.

Another finding that he came across was that residents really value their parks — 90 percent of residents use beach parks and 60 to 70 percent use neighborhood parks.

Some of the residents main complaints, he said, are poor park maintenance, lack of desired facilities, inadequate enforcement and crowding.

Top priorities included walking bike paths, picnic facilities, beaches, indoor recreation spaces and children’s playgrounds, Kimura said.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said in a press release Wednesday that proper management of county recreational opportunities has a positive effect on Kauai’s economy, environment and on the overall well-being of the population.

“This plan lays the groundwork to achieve those goals as we seek a healthier, more sustainable Kauai, and enhance the quality of life for our residents for generations to come,” he said.

This is the first time the county is updating its Parks Master Plan since it was originally prepared in 1978, the release states. Once approved, the final version will eventually be incorporated into the county’s General Plan.

The next step includes public meetings at: Kapaa Middle School Cafeteria, July 30; Hanalei Community Center, July 31; Koloa Neighborhood Center, Aug. 1; Waimea Neighborhood Center, Aug. 14; and Lihue Civic Center, Aug. 15. All meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

“From that we’ll take all of the input we receive, and if there are any major corrections that we need to do, we’ll do it and finalize the whole plan,” said Kimura, adding that public comments will be accepted until Oct. 30.

Go to www.kauaiparks.com to download the draft plan. Written comments may be submitted online or mailed to: Glenn Kimura, Kimura International, 1600 Kapiolani Blvd., Ste.1610, Honolulu, HI 96814.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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