KAILUA-KONA — A Ka‘u community is coming together in a grassroots effort to bring a multi-purpose recreational center to their region.
What began as an effort to start a roller derby team has turned into a vision of a center that would include a skating rink with bleachers, pavilion, dog park and walking path adjacent to Kahuku Park.
Ka‘u Skate Club — a nonprofit organization started by Ocean View residents Erika Prowse, Lzena Barrett and Lisa Olivarez — secured a 10-acre parcel in June from the County Department of Parks and Recreation to help turn their vision into reality.
They’re waiting to see if an environmental assessment performed in the 1980s for the location is still valid, if they need to amend it, or start from scratch. The group has an archaeologist on standby, ready to volunteer their time if a new EA is needed.
In the meantime, the group is trying to raise the $300,000 to build the facility.
“We are partnering with nonprofits and volunteers to donate labor and materials to keep the cost down,” said Prowse.
The club is looking for corporate sponsors and counting on community support to make the park happen. They are also looking for grant writers to apply for community grants that will be available in November.
“The community needs a place to go,” said Prowse. “There’s a lot of at risk kids down here. There’s nothing to do so some kids turn to drugs and gangs. This will be a place to go to get away from that.”
The organization is planning on building in phases once all of the permitting is in place with completion taking two to three years. The group currently meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at Kahuku park to enjoy the different styles of roller skating. Anyone at any skating level is welcome.
“It’s all about the kids,” said Prowse, noting their club has provided Christmas presents for neighborhood kids as well as an Easter Egg Hunt, all paid out of pocket by members.
Now they are ready to take it to the next step.
And 9 year-old Talia Wirtz is ready for that venture.
She has been skating for two years and loves the sport. She skates almost daily inside her house and during baseball season she would skate at the park on the basketball court while her brother was practicing.
She is excited about the possibility of having a skating rink at the park and would use it “after school, every weekend and as much as I can.”
“It would be great to have a big place to skate,” said Wirtz. “I can go with friends who don’t have skates and they can skateboard or whatever.”
She also envisions the rink with lights and music and a place to have birthday parties.
And she might even teach some of her friends how to skate.
“I skate by myself. It would be more fun to skate with others,” said Wirtz.
Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina said he’s excited about the prospect of the skate park.
“We’re very thankful for the Ka’u Skate Club’s interest in and pledge to develop a new skate park at Kahuku Park in the district of Ka‘u,” he wrote in an email. “The Department of Parks and Recreation recognizes the many positive physical, mental, social and societal impacts that the creation of a safe, challenging, and well-managed skating facility can have in and on a community, such as Ocean View. We commend the Ka’u Skate Club for championing this worthwhile effort and look forward to a long-lasting and successful partnership.”
The department will also support the club in the planning, design, permitting and construction phases of the proposed skate park inasmuch as its resources allow,” he added.
“We look forward to working with the Ka’u Skate Club to make this skate park a reality,” Messina wrote.
Fundraisers are in the works including an upcoming garage sale and an Oct. 19 concert at Tiki Mama’s.
“We can’t stress enough how grateful we are to Maile David and Park and Rec.,” Prowse said. “They have been so supportive of this project and we obviously would not be able to bring this project to fruition without them.”
“When you bring more positive in an area, you can lift spirits and change people’s lives,” she added.
For more information, or to make a donation visit: kauskateclub.com.