Booze may be banned from Hilo park

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HILO — Hawaii County might soon clamp down on drinking at James Kealoha Beach Park.

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HILO — Hawaii County might soon clamp down on drinking at James Kealoha Beach Park.

Citing community concerns, Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy is introducing a bill banning alcohol at the park, also known as 4 Mile.

While drinking is allowed at numerous county parks and facilities, officials are worried it’s getting out of hand at the gathering spot, where no permit is needed.

“There’s been concerns with drinking and racing and things that go on in that area,” Lee Loy said.

The Hawaii County Council’s Public Works &Parks and Recreation Committee will consider the bill Thursday.

The park is currently one of six in South Hilo and 23 islandwide where beer and other intoxicating beverages are allowed between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. without a permit, including the adjacent Carlsmith Beach Park. Alcohol consumption is allowed without a permit at another 16 county parks from 6-10 p.m.

Lee Loy said she’s heard complaints from the Leleiwi and Keaukaha communities about behavior of some of the park’s users.

She said she had a meeting with Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth and Parks and Recreation Director Charmaine Kamaka looking for alternatives.

“What we really want to do is slowly transition that area more into a passive, educational park rather than a place to hang out and drink,” Lee Loy said. She said that could involve using nearby Bishop Estate land.

Roth said he supports the bill.

“One of the problems down there is it’s kind of a park but not really a park,” he said. “You have people who are drinking in their cars and then they are driving.”

Lee Loy suggested the county code needs to be more consistent in how it treats alcohol consumption.

The code includes a list of parks where drinking is prohibited, some that require a permit and others that don’t. Even for parks where no permit is needed, there can be differences in times when alcohol consumption is allowed.

“When people complain … they are calling the Police Department to complain,” Lee Loy said. “Police are stepping in without consistent rules.”

Illegal drinking at a county park is considered a petty misdemeanor.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Parks where no permit is needed for alcohol

(Alcohol allowed from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.)

SOUTH HILO

Carlsmith Park

Hilo Senior Center

James Kealoha Beach Park

Kolekole Beach Park

Wai‘olena and Wai‘uli beach parks (except area between pavilions and west of the seawall)

Onekahakaha Beach Park

NORTH HILO/HAMAKUA

Kukuihaele Social Hall

Laupahoehoe Beach Park

Waikaumalo Park

PUNA

Harry K. Brown Park

Kaimu Beach Park

KA‘U

Punalu‘u Beach Park

Whittington Beach Park

KONA

Honaunau Boat Ramp

Ho‘okena Beach Park

Manini Point

Miloli‘i Beach Park

Napo‘opo‘o Beach Park

Oneo Park

KOHALA

Kapa‘a Beach Park

Keokea Beach Park

Mahukona Beach Park

Mahukona Boat Ramp

(Alcohol allowed from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.)

SOUTH HILO

Ainako Park

Kaiwiki Park

Kaumana Park and Playground

Kaumana Lani Park

Kula‘imano Park

Malama Park

Papa‘ikou Park

Waiakea-Uka Park

Wainaku Playground

NORTH HILO/HAMAKUA

Ahualoa Park

Laupahoehoe Senior Center

Pa‘auilo Park

Papa‘aloa Park

KA‘U

Wai‘ohinu Park

PUNA

Hawaiian Beaches Park

KONA

None

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KOHALA

Waikoloa Village Park