WAIMEA — Commemorating the historic landing of Captain James Cook, Waimea Town’s Hofgaard Park continues to make history.
The upgraded Waimea Town neighborhood park was dedicated Tuesday morning, while Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. gave his blessing among a crowd of about 30 supporters.
The Westside park recently received numerous upgrades, including concrete walkways and ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design. A handicap-accessible picnic table and 11 benches were also installed to increase usability of the one-third-acre park.
“After months of work, we are glad that this wonderful park is now accessible to everyone,” Carvalho said. “It is crucial that these types of improvements benefit all our residents and visitors, and the addition of these ADA walkways and new ADA picnic tables and benches means everyone will be able to enjoy this park in the heart of Waimea.”
The $255,139 project is funded with federal monies from the Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant and administered through the County of Kauai Housing Agency.
“The community worked together to make the park ADA compliant, so it can be used by everyone to enjoy,” said Pastor Darryl Kua of Westside Christian Center, who attended the dedication. “They put cement sidewalks in the park area, so wheelchairs can maneuver better. Before it was just grass and roots. So now, it’s easier for those in wheelchairs to get around.”
West Kauai Business and Professional Association was awarded the contract and subcontracted Tomco Corporation to complete the construction work. Bow Construction Management Services was subcontracted to direct the project management. More local businesses, like family-owned Kikiaola Construction and Beck’s Superior Hybrids, joined efforts to beautify the park.
This whole thing that started about four years ago and came to a climax in March, when we had a meeting with the mayor and Kanani Fu, housing director for the County of Kauai Housing Agency, said Eric Nordmeier, WKBPA president.
“From there it started to steamroll until June and July when the construction started,” he said.
Contractors excavated the site, removed trees and curbed areas, added new curbs, ramps and walkways, and installed the new picnic tables and benches.
“This is not a new chapter for Hofgaard Park, it’s actually a new volume,” Nordmeier said. “People utilize the park; there’s a tremendous amount of people that stop by. They like to read the information boards there that explain historical events.”
One of the park’s most prominent features is a 15-foot statue of Captain James Cook facing the ocean, a replica of his original statue in Whitby, England. The British commander was the first European to sight the Hawaiian Islands and made first landfall at the mouth of the Waimea River in 1778.
Hofgaard Park is dedicated to these historic events with a timeline of Waimea and Western influence documented on plaques across the park.
“Some people knew it as Tamago Park,” Nordmeier said. “Tamago in Japanese means egg, and the park is kinda in the shape of an egg.”
The most recent improvement was the ability for people with disabilities to be able to go around the monuments, Nordmeier continued, including sidewalks within the park and also an area with an ADA-compliant table, so people with wheelchairs can pull up to it, and people can sit around it.
The new plastic-composite benches face the existing stage for entertainment purposes. The peaceful park is a popular place to view the holiday parade and tree lighting. It is also a regular stop for tour groups to take photos and for residents to take a break.
“It’s a place where people can go get their lunch or go to the Da Booze Shop or Super Duper Two and get their ice cream,” said Kua. “They can walk across the park, sit under the trees, enjoy the shade and let their kids run around and play.”