LIHU‘E — Parking on Kalena Street near Kalena Park was restricted Friday, and certain areas were roped off, as construction workers from KickAss Concrete worked on removing the chain-link fence on the Kalena Street side of the park.
The cleared area was prepared for the installation of huge concrete balls and an oversized A-L-O-H-A sign, the individual letters created by KickAss Concrete.
Those pieces of construction serve as a precursor to the community work day scheduled for today, when volunteers will finish the sign installation, spruce up the park by repainting the picnic tables, and plant trees.
“All of this leads up to a major, week-long event — Fitness Week in the Park — that takes place on May 16 to the 23rd,” said Larry Feinstein of the neighboring Kaua‘i Beer Company that is scheduled to provide lunch for the volunteers today. “Mayor Derek Kawakami might drop in on the work day, but definitely will kick off Fitness Week on the 16th. There will be lots of outdoor activity, including pickleball clinics, yoga in the park and more.”
Feinstein, who also serves on the Kaua‘i Cares group with Lori Koga of M. Tanaka Store adjacent to the park, said the project is unique because of all the different groups and people working together for such a long period of time.
“This effort started even before the TIGER (federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant with Kurt Osaki — he’s coming with the new sign next week — brought in to create a branding program for Rice Street in 2015 along with Rice Street block parties, Movies in the Park and more,” said Feinstein.
”We even have a park master plan designed by Barth and Associates, a mainland park-design consultant, made possible by a grant from the county.”
For six years, the group sparked by Lee Steinmetz and the county’s Planning Department and other groups, including the Department of Parks and Recreation with Wally Rezentes and William Trugillo, Bev Brody and Get Fit Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Cares, the Boys &Girls Club Lihu‘e Clubhouse, Koga, the Rice Street Business Association and Dr. Addison Bulosan, have worked together on the vision for the park.
“This in itself is unique,” Feinstein said, “to have this many people working together for such a long period of time, and still continuing to work together.”
In addition to the removal of the fence and new signs, other park improvements include the moving of picnic tables to restrict use to just one table for each of the mini pavilions, and four outside picnic tables. The picnic tabletops will feature painted-on checker boards created by the Mo‘olelo Murals artists, who have been busy painting around the town, including the walls of Ha Coffee Bar inside Kaua‘i Beer Company.
“The park will also anchor Lihu‘e Loops, a major project involving the creation of a 1.3-mile walking tour of downtown, with 20 stops, each one having an audio story,” Feinstein said. “How appropriate that Fitness Week takes place here. Just wait and see — Kalena Park will be the jewel of downtown Lihu‘e.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.