‘New life and purpose’

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A spectator uses the panoramic mode for the group gathered Saturday to celebrate the new skatepark located at the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami takes his turn in the lineup, Saturday at the new skatepark in the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Justin McDonald closes his lap, Saturday as Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami gets photos of the trick at the new skatepark at the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami gets photos of a BMX rider tricking off the new skatepark, Saturday at the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami rolls video as Justin McDonald works a trick off the new skatepark, Saturday at the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

LIHU‘E — The whir of wheels on concrete interrupted by the rumble of the wooden pipes announced the opening of a new skatepark situated in the back of the Pi‘ikoi Building, Lihu‘e Civic Center.

“This skatepark has brought new life and purpose to this area,” said Mayor Derek S.K.. Kawakami, Saturday as he joined the lineup in using the layout. “This provides a safe space for our youth, and youth at heart. Our keiki should not be forced to skate in dark, back alleys because they have nowhere else to go. This skatepark was a small, creative project that has already made a huge impact in our community. Thank you to our Planning and Parks departments, and the dedicated volunteers who gave up their time and resources to make this project possible.”

Located in front of the county’s recently-painted Holua mural on the east-facing wall of the Lihu‘e Civic Center’s Pi‘ikoi Building, the skatepark was installed earlier in October through efforts coordinated by the county and community volunteers.

“This is a real skatepark,” said Austin Mitchell who stopped to use the park following work Tuesday. “The angles are just right, and it’s nice to be able to come during lunch and after work.”

Funded by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program through the Lihu‘e Town Core Mobility and Revitalization project, the county was able to recently renovate the Lihu‘e Civic Center parking lot. But there were no final plans to change the former Big Save space in the Pi‘ikoi Building.

Officials decided to build a temporary “pop up” skatepark to utilize the space until a long-term use is considered.

“Ellen Ching, the head of Boards and Commissions, has an office around the corner,” Kawakami said. “She called us to say how nice it was to see all the young people using the facility and having fun.”

Cost of the skatepark project totaled approximately $9,000 which was funded through a quick-build grant from the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health with a purpose to enhance public spaces in ways that will encourage physical activity. The grant funds projects that can be quickly implemented in months instead of years, and that can help the community envision more permanent, long-term solutions.

“This was a great experience to work with our county team, local artists, and dedicated community volunteers to re-imagine this underused space,” said Lee Steinmetz, the county’s Transportation Planner. “With these quick-build funds from the Department of Health, we are learning how to just ‘try it’ with minimal investment, see how it works, assess community support, and then decide whether to invest in more permanent facilities.”

The Holua mural, painted by artists Seth Womble and Samuel Schryver in August, was envisioned to complement the still unbuilt skatepark. The mural’s theme links together the historic nature of the Lihu‘e town core, traditional Hawaiian sport, and the youthful exuberance of a skatepark.

“This is your park,” Kawakami told the group of users and community organizers. “Take care of it and follow all of the safety measures posted.”

6 Comments
  1. I saw a Vampire once October 20, 2020 1:35 am Reply

    Funding is the problem. How much do you need to make the one i had in mind? like a whole block. $1 million dollars worth of cement and digging up. And who would build it.


  2. so many skater tourists not wearing masks October 20, 2020 2:36 am Reply

    oh wait -these are residents.


  3. Helmut Safely October 20, 2020 5:04 am Reply

    “follow the safety measures posted.”, said the Mayor, as only 3 of 18 participants had helmets.

    World Champion skate boarder Tony Hawk always wears a helmet, it must have something to do with safety.

    In case of a liability lawsuit, the Mayor looks like he may have some extra pictures to back up the plaintiff lawyer’s proof of County liability.

    There have been no direct deaths of residents on Kaua’i from Covid19 virus, but there has been for skateboarders not wearing a helmet in the past. Concrete and human heads are not a good combination.

    With All organized games of football, the players all have helmets, and they play on grass, skateboarders play on concrete, and accelerate head injury incidence by jumping on and off the county provided ramps.

    There’s no Garden Island photo of the Posted Safety Measures, but there used to be, and may still be one, at the Kapa’a Skateboarder Park. It included must wear a helmet. The County does not enforce the rules there; but try go to a store on Kaua’i and not wear a mask, or wait in line anywhere not 6’ apart.

    Safety rules are there for Safety whether we like them or not. Mr. Mayor, what about your Park’s Director? Maybe he could
    enforce the rules, or are there no safety measures.

    Seems the Bike Path should have some Safety Measure about helmets. Some bicycle riders, well some wear helmets so it must be important for safety.

    County Parks’ Health and Safety is not Head Injury and Brain Damage.

    Best to tune up the safety of our recreational areas with potential for head injuries and brain damage.

    Which reminds of another sport with helmet use. Batter Up!

    Mahalo Mayor, your “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, especially since there is very little head injury/brain damage cure available.


    1. alien October 22, 2020 7:08 am Reply

      Your ignorance is funny, and no Tony Hawk does not always wear a Helmet. Skate Boarders allow freedom of choice.Maybe you should wear a helmet cause ya never know when you might trip or fall. You know nothing about skateboarding.


  4. Kaaona Kipuka October 20, 2020 10:08 am Reply

    Yeah…I don’t think this project was completely thought out. So what happens when a skateboard goes through a county employee’s vehicle front windshield??? or they split their head open while skateboarding, who picks up the tab on these scenarios??? Don’t we already have a skatepark in Kapa’a… Hello!!!


  5. Rick October 21, 2020 6:21 pm Reply

    Hows all these haters.. what if this.. what if that.. shup up and let the kids skate…


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