Council boosts skate park plans

Kailua-Kona keiki will soon have new digs in which to practice their flips, pops and slides.

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Kailua-Kona keiki will soon have new digs in which to practice their flips, pops and slides.

Two Hawaii County Council members dipped into their district contingency funds Wednesday to give a planned skate park a $50,000 boost.

Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha and North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff decided to donate $25,000 each so that community volunteers, working with the county Department of Parks and Recreation, could construct the park at the entrance of Old Kona Airport Park, also known as Makaeo and Kailua Park. The council unanimously approved the measures.

County Parks and Recreation will provide the materials and is working with volunteers to provide the labor, said Deputy Director Ken Van Bergen.

“It will help us leverage the support of the community,” Van Bergen said.

Long-awaited improvements to the park are slated to begin this summer. The park is expected to cost more than $20 million, he said.

During the planning charrette years ago, community members wanted the 117-acre park to be a more passive, green space They also wanted to improve the existing play fields, courts, swimming pool and facilities.

The contingency fund, re-established last year after a four-year hiatus, gives each of the nine council members $90,000 for expenses in their districts not covered by the budget.

Kanuha praised the project and said it’s well worth the money. The park is currently using a temporary facility.

“This will take the kids off the streets so they will have a safe place to recreate and do their thing,” Kanuha said.

“I’m sure the kids are going to be really happy,” added Eoff.

Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi noted that with Kona, Hamakua and Pahoa now in the process of getting skate parks, it’s time that Hilo got one too. He said children use their skateboards on the streets and sidewalks.

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Onishi said he plans to get with fellow Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung to see how they can get a skate park built in Hilo.

Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan suggested the county hold skate tournaments where the children from the various parks can compete against each other.

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