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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Waimanalo park vision on hold

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

WAIMANALO — A Waimanalo District Park Master Plan establishes the priorities and long-range dreams for park users, including a 50-meter swimming pool and new buildings at the 26-acre site.

But before anything gets built from this vision team project, some members of the community want existing facilities fixed. Those include a leaky gym roof, a deteriorating beach park building and cracked baseball fields.

"(The master plan) is a good future plan," said Mabel Ann Spencer, a member of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board and the vision team. "But hindering us is the city's commitment to current renovations. We can build additional things at our parks but what about the maintenance of the existing facilities."

When the city initiated the vision teams in 1998, Waimanalo community set priorities for its needs and decided that renovation of park facilities should come first, Spencer said. Vision teams were created by Mayor Jeremy Harris to give communities a chance to decide how to spend $2 million in their neighborhoods.

"If they cannot maintain what they have built then we should not go forward with a new venture," Spencer said.

Ben Kama, a Waimanalo resident who facilitates the vision team meeting for the city, said the vision team sets the priorities and sometimes money is not available for all of the projects.

But renovations are being done, Kama said. And this year the baseball fields are in the city budget for the 2000-01 fiscal year along with a multi-sports complex.

Some residents are investigating other ways to finance further renovations through their City Council representative who can place the projects in the budget, he said.

Kama said he understands the frustration that comes from learning this new process to develop community projects and understanding the city's built in checks and balances that ensure money is spent properly.

"Hopefully as I facilitate the meetings, I can help bring them to the realization that the process is not fast," he said. "We have a lot of checks because this is taxpayers money."

Glenn Kimura, president for Kimura International Inc., presented the park master plan to the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board earlier this month. The long-, short- and medium-range plan also includes the acquisition of 20 more acres next to the park where multiple baseball fields and a full-sized football field could be built.

"This community has one of the most actively used parks," Kimura said, who noted that Kailua teams often play on Waimanalo fields. "Throughout the year the facility is heavily in demand for all kinds of uses so by all means this plan is justified."

The plan includes an inline skate area, and more basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. The swimming pool is part of the long-range plan, he said.

When planning with the community, it said fields were a priority, Kimura said. So he designed the two baseball fields so that they can be turned into four small baseball fields for young children and into soccer or football fields during the off season.

The plan also includes an open pavilion that can be used for such things as craft classes or meetings.

The city has approved the plan and an environmental assessment will be conducted, Kimura said.