HANAMAULU — It took all of two nudges with an excavator Wednesday to topple the half century-old pavilion at Hanamaulu Beach Park.
Within half an hour, the structure was reduced to a pile of splintered wood and concrete. And by midday, the debris had been hauled away; nothing but a bare patch of ground remaining.
Eddie Sarita, president of the Hanamaulu Community Association, said he is relieved the eyesore has finally been removed.
“While it has a lot of sentimental value, it’s been reduced to a homeless haven,” he said.
Starting in 2008, community members began requesting that the dilapidated, graffiti-covered structure, which was built in the 1960s, be bulldozed, according to Sarita. After six years, they got what they asked for.
“I think the situation is going to improve,” said Sarita, referring to the illegal activity at the park over the years. “We’re looking forward to a new pavilion.”
Not everyone agreed.
“It’s a shame,” said Tony Sherrill, a Kapaa resident who was hanging out at the park Wednesday afternoon.
Sherrill said he felt it could have been rebuilt, but it wasn’t something the county likely wanted tourists to see.
The only person present for the Wednesday morning demolition — other than those working to tear it down — was Darin Kimmel, a regular park visitor who videotaped the event on his cellphone.
Like Sherrill, Kimmel was disappointed to see the historic structure go. Even in its run-down condition, Kimmel said people were drawn to it because it was a cool spot to hang out.
As for the illegal activity that has plagued the park in recent years, he said it’s always a few immature individuals who ruin something special for everyone else.
“It’s got a bad rap,” he said of the park. “But that doesn’t take away from what this place is.”
Wednesday’s demolition is the latest effort by the county to combat excessive vandalism, illegal activity and vagrancy in the park. Pacific Concrete Cutting and Coring was awarded the contract for the project, which came at a cost of $9,375.
In August of 2013, in response to community concerns, the county began closing Hanamaulu Beach Park from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, which came with a ban on overnight camping. Since then, many have reported marked improvements.
“I’m aware and advised that the situation is much better down there than it used to be, and I think with this clearing (of the pavilion) it will improve it even more,” Sarita said.
County spokeswoman Mary Daubert said the county plans to replace the demolished building as part of the Hanamaulu to Ahukini segment of the multi-use path, which will likely follow the completion of the portions connecting Waipouli Beach Resort to Papaloa Road. A firm date for that segment of the path has not yet been set.
County officials have said they are also considering other improvements at the Hanamaulu park, including additional lighting, to improve safety at night.
Daubert said Hanamaulu Beach Park has been a challenge to maintain due to illegal activities occurring there.
“Over the years, the county has partnered with many community groups on cleaning up the park, particularly the Hanamaulu Neighborhood Association, and we really appreciate all of their efforts,” she wrote. “Hopefully, the demolition will bring us one step closer toward restoring the park to where families can enjoy it to its fullest once again.”
The county doesn’t have plans to reopen the park for camping.
Chris D’Angelo, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.