County: Kuawa ball fields fixed

  • Lawn maintenance is done Wednesday at Kuawa ball fields in Hilo. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HILO — Improvements to the drainage system on the Kuawa ball fields have been completed, and the long-awaited park is anticipated to open early next year, county Parks and Recreation officials said.

“We are happy to report the drainage is working,” Parks and Recreation Director Roxcie Waltjen said.

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The park, informally known as Kuawa Park, is located on Kuawa Street between Kamehameha Avenue and the Hoolulu Complex, and will have youth baseball fields and a multipurpose field to host football and soccer games, among other uses.

Work, which began more than two years ago, was initially expected to be completed in October 2016 but was delayed to 2017 because of soil contamination and heavy rain. Last year, however, it was discovered that drainage problems prevented grass from growing in the park as well as expected, among other issues.

Waltjen said a new “crown,” or high point which allows water to drain off the field toward low-lying areas or dry wells, has been formed, new soil has been put in, and the fields have been seeded, “so now we wait for the grass to grow.”

That “normally takes 90 days, give or take whatever other conditions arise, but it looks like we’re headed for good results,” she said.

Record rainfall brought by Hurricane Lane in August already has put the new drainage to the test.

“The crown was created before Hurricane Lane, and when those rains came, I was literally hysterically worried what we were going to find the following day,” Waltjen said. “I was very pleased to see the drainage worked. (The fields) had some water, but it drained within an hour or so.”

The corrective work was done at no cost to the county, Waltjen said.

According to Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina, the county, project contractors Isemoto Contracting and project designer SSFM International “agreed it was in the public’s best interest to go back and do this corrective action, and we’re very thankful to them.”

According to Messina, the total price of the Kuawa project was $3,547,952.

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“We feel relieved, happy that everything worked out, and we’re just striving toward reaching that (field opening) goal at this point,” Waltjen said.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.