Kalena Park improvements could enhance Rice Street project

LIHUE — Representatives of the Kauai Beer Company are proposing a private-public partnership to renovate Kalena Park.

“Developing urban parks, it’s been around for quite a long time,” said Larry Feinstein, board member of the company’s nonprofit, Kauai Cares. “You take an existing park and redesign it to bring it up to a more modern time reflecting the current uses the park could have.”

Preliminary plans for the county park, just a short walk from the Rice Street brewery, will be discussed at Thursday’s Lihue Business Association meeting.

“The plan would be to get a blessing from the county to at least proceed. Then we would seek private funds to create a design for the park and then have public input on the design,” Feinstein said.

Upgrades to Kalena Park could include improving the basketball court, installing exercise stations, updating the playground and adding sitting areas.

Alan Tada, who owns Flowers Forever, across the street from Kalena Park, supports the effort.

“It’s a good idea to have some sort of upgrade,” he said.

Tada also believes security measures should be taken to mitigate the homeless population that camps at the park.

“It’s bad for the kids who want to play basketball or eat lunch there,” he said. “It’s a homeless park, not a kids’ park anymore.”

Feinstein hopes private businesses will come on as sponsors and help fund park improvements, and individuals will donate to the cause.

KBC doesn’t intend to take over the management of the county-run park, he added. Rather, the company wants to help the county make improvements by enlisting the help of businesses.

“It’s nothing KBC wants credit for — we’re attempting to be responsible citizens and good members of the community,” he said.

Pat Griffin, LBA president, said she’s interested in hearing more details about the plan.

“We want all of our parks to be wonderful, inviting places,” she said.

KBC started Kauai Cares about a year ago. At the same time, the county was in the process of Rice Street revitalization efforts, including the TIGER Grant projects and branding, Feinstein said.

“The thought was let’s try to do something with Kalena Park because there’s so much happening around it, and in some ways it would be unfortunate not to do something with it,” he said. “We have this wonderful crown being put together and the park would be a missing jewel.”

A request for comment from the county about the Kalena Park upgrade plan was not returned by press time.

Also on Thursday, Lee Steinmetz, county transportation planner, will discuss updates to the TIGER Grant projects as well as the Rice Street brand.

In October 2015, the county received the $13.8 million grant, which will be used to to revitalize Rice Street to make it the center of Lihue.

During the meeting, Karen Ono, executive director of the Kauai Board of Realtors, is expected to discuss KBR’s Rice Street Revitalization survey, which was launched in January.

The Lihue post office is also on the agenda.

In January, the United States Postal Service announced a plan to close the 4441 Rice Street location and consolidate operations with the USPS Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway, citing difficult parking and access issues.

A public meeting is planned for Thursday night.

The LBA meeting is free and open to the public. It will be at Duke’s Canoe Club and begins at 7:30 a.m.


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