Old Kona Airport Park cleanup postponed

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KAILUA-KONA — A planned cleanup at Old Kona Airport Beach Park later this month has been postponed because a solution on where to move the homeless currently camping in the area has not yet been reached.

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KAILUA-KONA — A planned cleanup at Old Kona Airport Beach Park later this month has been postponed because a solution on where to move the homeless currently camping in the area has not yet been reached.

There have been a variety of feelings and opinions from park patrons and the homeless residing in the area. One prevailing theme everyone agrees on is if police and county officials don’t want homeless in the park then they need to find a permanent location somewhere else.

“We should designate some land or camp and they need to clean up after themselves,” said Annabel Edwards who was at Old Airport Wednesday with a group of children. “We need to make the park safe and usable for kids again.”

The park was scheduled to close April 19-20 for the cleanup. Prior to the event, officials were planning on relocating approximately 75 homeless individuals from the area.

The homeless would have been asked to leave prior to and during the park closure, but as an alternative site was not found, the cleanup was pushed back, according to a press release from Mayor Harry Kim’s office.

“We are postponing the cleanup while the county is seeking a properly prepared alternative site for the people to go,” said Charmaine Kamaka, director of Parks and Recreation.

According to Lance Niimi, assistant housing administrator, a tentative site was selected but was met with problems.

Simonnita Browne lives in a tent at Old Kona Airport with her boyfriend, Raynard Aldaya, and their two young children. They were walking a bag of trash to a garbage can when they adamantly stated people don’t understand the situation at the park.

“We clean up our area, we do stuff during the day,” Browne said. “If they could make the parking lot at the homeless shelter bigger or provide land they’re not using for us to camp on, I think that would be fine.”

She added it’s the few individuals camping at the park using drugs and causing problems that create issues for everyone else.

Browne said a lot of people at Old Kona Airport do make money, but they can’t afford to move into a house or apartment.

“They just think we’re bums and we’re not,” Browne said.

The Hawaii Police Department is working with the mayor’s office as a solution to clean up the park and move the homeless out gets under way.

Sgt. Royle Valera, in community policing, said authorities are looking at short-term and long-term solutions for the homeless islandwide.

Valera added the short-term solution for the homeless residing in Old Kona Airport was not workable and officials needed more time to get it right.

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Until that time, Valera said, police will continue enforcement.

Kamaka said it is hoped that the new cleanup date will be within the next month.

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