Group prepares for county pavilion reopenings

  • Scott Yunker / The Garden Island

    Members of the Tahitian dance school Ori Uvira are excited to once again utilize a county park pavilion for practice. Here, they rehearse in a back yard in Kapa‘a.

KAPA‘A — Residents are celebrating the recent reopening of some county park pavilions, describing the development as a much-needed step toward normalcy in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Members of Ori Uvira, a Tahitian dance school or pupu ori led by kumu Nick Kaneakua of Kapa‘a, met in Kaneakua’s gravel driveway on Monday. They’ve already filed a pavilion-permit application through the county’s Department of Parks &Recreation, and hope to hold their next practice in one of the seven available park locations.

“We’re very eager to get back to our routine. It took a toll on everybody emotionally, because we couldn’t stay connected through telephone,” said longtime dancer Celina Baliaris Rivera.

Ori Uvira has been practicing at Kaneakua’s residence while abiding by COVID-19 safety protocols. Its dancers are grateful for the twice-weekly opportunity to work with each other again, but say the small size of the driveway and its close proximity to neighbors make their current meeting place a short-term solution at best.

“You can feel more, do more (at a park),” said Rivera.

The kumu agreed.

“Being out in the open, with the ocean … you can breathe easier,” said Kaneakua.

Parks &Recreation Director Patrick Porter addressed the pavilions’ reopening on Tuesday.

“The opening of applications for pavilion permits has been well received,” he said an email. “Over 100 applications were submitted in the first 36 hours since the opening, and our staff is working to process those applications as quickly as possible. Additionally, our online-application portal has handled the volume well, and calls for assistance have been at a minimal.”

The county announced the pavilions’ renewed availability on July 9 for reservations on and after July 23.

Affected spaces include all three pavilions at ‘Anini Beach Park, the Hanama‘ulu Beach Park pavilion, the Lucy Wright Park pavilion, the large and small pavilions at Lydgate Park, the Niumalu Beach Park pavilion, the main pavilion at Po‘ipu Beach Park and the Wailua Houselots Park pavilion.

Permit applications may be submitted through an online portal located under the “Permitting” tab at kauai.gov/parks, or by scheduling an in-person appointment at 808-241-4463 or recpermits@kauai.gov.

Some limitations are in place as well, as the department reopens permitting through a phased rollout.

“At this time, inflatables and vehicle-gate access will not be allowed,” the county said in a press release. “However, the next phase of permitted pavilions is expected to open in August, including the option for amusement vendors who wish to operate in county parks.”

No more than 75 individuals can gather at each pavilion, per rules established in the Kaua‘i Business and Recreational Guidelines for COVID-19 Tier Chart. The county is in Tier Five as of July 8.

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Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.

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