Sprucing up Kamalani Bridge

LIHUE — Splotches of worn paint plague the Kamalani Bridge.

Here and there, the dark brown paint was taken completely off, revealing the wood underneath.

On Oct. 22, Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, a nonprofit organization that works to expand and make improvements to Lydgate Park, will host a community workday for the sole purpose of re-painting the Kamalani Bridge.

“We started painting the bridge in April, during an Earth Day workday event, but we realized we needed to focus all of our attention on the bridge,” said Tommy Noyes, event coordinator for Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park.

The organization finished construction of Kamalani Bridge in 2001, two months after Sept. 11.

“It was about keeping the community healthy and connected,” Noyes said. “Healthy doesn’t always mean physical health, it also is about being mentally at peace and being connected to the community in which you live.”

Lydgate Park was built in 1994. Everyone on the island — from professional construction workers to Kauai Community Correctional Center — was involved in the making of the park, Noyes said.

The goal was to reconnect everyone in the community, from all walks of life, he added.

Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park host two workdays a year — one in the fall, for National Make a Difference Day, and one in the spring, for Earth Day.

The fall community workdays coincide with National Make a Difference Day, which highlights the importance of communities coming together to improve the lives of others.

For 12 years, Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park representatives and volunteers take to the 2.5-mile property, cleaning up trash and making infrastructure improvements.

“It sounds like us,” Noyes said. “It gives the event a broader context, that the entire nation has dedicated a day to make a difference.”

On previous workdays, Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park put the community to work on a variety of clean up and infrastructure improvement projects. Last year, they planted trees along the sports field, made repairs to Kamalani Playground, beach and heiau and did a general clean up along the property.

“Our committee meets 10 times a year to talk about what we’re going to do,” Noyes said.

This year, effort is going entirely to sprucing up Kamalani Bridge.

“We got about 20 percent done, but it clearly needs more work. We want to come back and put a concerted effort into it,” he said.

Volunteers are asked to bring their own ladders, work gloves and water bottle. Organization officials also ask that volunteers wear closed-toed shoes and sun screen.

Keiki 12 and under are invited, but they must stay with a adult, Noyes added.

The workday starts at 7:30 a.m. and goes until noon. Volunteers will sign in at the overnight campground pavilion and will be sent out to the bridge.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Noyes hopes the turnout will be similar to previous workdays. Usually, around one hundred people show up. But this year, during an Earth Day community workday, 180 people lent a hand to the group.

“I’d love to see 200 people painting the bridge,” he said. “This dedication benefits each and every park user. More importantly, we have fun tackling these major projects and build lasting friendships.”

Not even the rain will put a damper on the event.

“We don’t cancel. If it rains, we’ll do litter control,” Noyes said.

More info: 639-1018.

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