One man makes moves to clean up parks

  • Courtesy of Chucky Rapozo Sr.

    Chucky Rapozo Sr. and niece Nalani Soto pause during a work day for a break and quick photo.

KAPAHI — New community partnerships are forming on Kaua‘i thanks to one man’s tenacious pursuit of pristine county parks, and now the group is asking the County of Kaua‘i for money to help out with maintenance in their parks.

Retired county worker Chucky Rapozo Sr. started spearheading a mission for park upkeep on social media in December, posting about unsanitary and criminal conditions in the public restrooms at Donkey Beach. He’s been doing pro-bono work on county parks, using his own resources, for years.

Those recent posts roused some other community members, who joined the effort and fixed some of the problems in the Donkey Beach restroom area. The posts also grabbed the attention of Kaua‘i Foundation, which has been volunteering labor for caretaking the county parks through the Adopt A Park program since 2006.

The foundation creates “liability needs lists” and sends them to the county Department of Parks & Recreation as part of that work, according to Kaua‘i Foundation president Janee Taylor.

Kaua‘i Foundation is also dedicated to “contributing to a prosperous local economy” and improving quality of life island-wide, according to their mission statement.

Kaua‘i Foundation has a consultation and training program already in the works, and does projects upgrading parks on Kaua‘i. They also continue staff education and training programs based on the Pride in our Park program.

Taylor said she noticed Rapozo’s posts on Facebook in December and that Rapozo was taking action in areas where they wanted to see change — completing repainting and upkeep projects and fixing facilities.

“Chucky’s plea and desire to make pono hit that cord in me that I have also felt over the years,” said Taylor.

So Kaua‘i Foundation teamed up with Rapozo, starting with an assessment field trip to six different parks.

“We were able to understand the common denominator, lack of oversight by the county Parks Department, and we have immediate solutions,” said Taylor.

Once they made their punch list of parks needs, the team drafted a general grant application to submit to County of Kaua‘i to fund the listed projects.

The grant application also lists hiring janitorial services for a 45-day, intensive cleaning project; consultation and in-house training on time management, sanitation, morale boosting for the parks maintenance staff; and a county-wide assessment of all parks.

The grant application was submitted to the county on Feb. 10, asking for $36,900.

Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Wallace Rezentes Jr. said they received the grant application and are reviewing it.

Rezentes said the Rapozo did not coordinate his work with the department and requests that community members coordinate with County of Kaua‘i before taking on projects within the jurisdiction of county staff.

Rapozo isn’t slowing down while they wait for word on the grant application, though. Recently, he and his son Kurt Rapozo painted the bathroom at Kapahi Park, using a gallon of lava deck paint that he supplied. He says they chose a light color for the bathroom so it “wouldn’t look like a prison.”

Taylor said the timing is perfect for Kaua‘i Foundation to team up with Rapozo, because the foundation has just started the 2020 Kaua‘i Oversight Initiative, which endeavors to transition Kaua‘i to “a healthier island with social, economic and ecological integrity” and helps outline ways to “our our way to a better future.”

“I am grateful Mr. Rapozo came forth when he did,” Taylor said.

This story has been edited to reflect accuracy.

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Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

8 Comments
  1. Kauaidoug February 14, 2020 8:53 am Reply

    Way to go! And why our county can’t take this iniative? Don’t we have a county Parks supervisor that makes a pretty penny now? Come on! we


  2. Kauai Resident February 14, 2020 9:58 am Reply

    Mahalo to Mr. Rapozo for all his hard work and spending his own money to restore our parks for our families and children to have a decent place to play and enjoy the outdoors. Mahalo to Dept of Parks and recreation for submitting a grant request. I’m sure that the department has a very good reason they let the parks get so run down and dirty before they initiate any action and ongoing upkeep.


  3. KHSGrad February 14, 2020 9:29 pm Reply

    This is so awesome!! I love to hear stories of citizens taking matter into their own hands to help keep this island clean and beautiful….. Way to go!!!


  4. Debra Kekaualua February 15, 2020 8:53 am Reply

    If we had just 50K of our residents that are like this Kane, We Kia’i would bond together and bring Kauai and the other moku back to those times that surely the kupuna, the adult parents of your amazing ohana and every hana hou others recall, but now locked out from due to invincible rabid tourism. It is the mentality of one Kane, then another wahine to pick up, ‘step up and step out’.

    We are no longer afraid, we are educated, and together we could Forever flip Hewa Loa into a peaceful without military warring machinery or armament.

    Aloha, I still believe will save the world, and this kane side by side with the others who are paying attention are rising to the occasion! aloha


  5. MisterM February 15, 2020 9:56 am Reply

    How about installing port-a-potties and then hiring a full-time County employee to empty and maintain them? Then there’s no excuse for filthy bathroom facilities. Clean them daily, or every other day. No need to hire expensive outside vendors who aren’t accountable and have no oversight.


  6. Steve Martin February 16, 2020 10:46 am Reply

    The county should contract all services to our parks. If we use private sources they will provide their trained professional services. It’s obvious that the county can’t seem to provide what needs to be done. I don’t see our new head of parks is really doing anything different than the old one. The county does a great job of putting people to work that don’t work like those who work in the private sector.. Until the mayor stops the madness services will continue as they are today. If you want something done right you hire the right people and companies to do the job.


  7. Steve Martin February 16, 2020 10:57 am Reply

    This is the same guy that sat In his truck at the memorial building every day and was paid by the county. We never heard what became of that situation other than he now he’s retired and heads up a maintenance crew without approvals to do so. Too many chiefs and not enough good working Indians.


  8. Kauaiisfun February 19, 2020 7:28 pm Reply

    This guy is awesome. So much bureaucracy. Kauai needs to put some effort into the parks.


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