LIHUE – Kauai County Councilman Tim Bynum says Kapaa New Town Park is a place that has not necessarily lived up to its name.
“It has been a new park for a lot of years,” said Bynum, who recalled working with late Mayor Bryan Baptiste in 2006 to find a home field for the Kapaa High School football team.
It is a vision that will come to fruition on Saturday when the 18-acre park will be rededicated as the high school’s home field, following a number of renovations, and renamed as the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex.
“Mayor Baptiste felt very strongly that Kapaa High School should have its own ‘home field,’ and we have been working toward this moment for a number of years,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. wrote in an email.
Baptiste died in office in 2008 while serving his second term as mayor.
He was 52.
A County Council proposal, introduced by Council Chair Jay Furfaro, that outlined the park’s name change noted that Baptiste founded the county’s Hoolokahi program in 1994 while serving as the manager of the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. That program, which is still in place, brings organizations and residents together for volunteer cleanup and beautification projects.
“Certainly, this honors a great man who really served humbly and did a lot of good things for the island that, today, is in fruition,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa before the County Council unanimously approved the posthumous honor on Wednesday. “I think it certainly sounds better than Kapaa New Town Park or Kapaa stadium.”
About $1.1 million has been spent to improve and upgrade park facilities, including the installation of new lighting systems, locker rooms near the football field and grass strips for the football field, said County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo.
“I’m really excited for the kids of Kapaa who benefit from all of our efforts,” Rapozo said. “It’s beautiful. I think the rest of the island will be very envious for the kids of Kapaa.”
County plans call for the future addition of a 11.59-acre soccer facility for the park.
The final Kauai Interscholastic Federation football game of the regular season between the Kapaa High School Warriors and the Kauai High School Red Raiders will be played on Saturday for the first time on the newly renovated football field.
“The tradition of coming together as a family to support our children, adults, and community through athletic competition is the legacy that will continue for decades at the Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex,” Department of Education Kauai Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki wrote in a statement.
The junior varsity game begins at noon on Saturday and the varsity game is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. A ceremony to formally dedicate the park to Baptiste will be held around 1:30 p.m., or immediately following the junior varsity game.
Along with the football field, the park includes two baseball fields, a softball field, basketball courts, tennis courts, and in-line hockey rink and skate park.