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.”