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.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.