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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Palolo park getting face-lift

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Now that repairs at the Palolo Valley District Park swimming pool are nearing completion, the attention of residents is turning to the landscaping in the park.

The park will undergo a $250,000 face-lift, including new trees, a picnic area and possibly a walking path along Palolo Stream, with construction expected to begin early next year.

The improvements are part of a capital-improvement project that has been in the works for several years and has been paid for at the request of the Palolo Neighborhood Board.

Money is included in the city's fiscal year 2004 budget and a master plan has been created by engineering and planning firm USI-Hawaii Inc.

"This project is so we can have trees, get rid of the trees that are dead and make it a much nicer park," said Darlene Nakayama, chairwoman of the Palolo board.

Donald Bremner, project manager for USI, will give a presentation on the final plans at the board's Aug. 11 meeting.

According to the master plan, phase one, which is financed, will include removing 24 unhealthy trees and replacing them with 48 new trees, including pink tecoma, monkeypod and kukui.

Plans also include replacing grass and weed growth on the slopes of the park perimeter and installing an irrigation system for the new trees not covered by the current irrigation system.

Phase two, which is not yet financed, will include installing eight new picnic tables and benches, building a streamside pathway, and filling and regrading the stream slope to raise the field level and expand the playing area.

Bremner said the plans were adjusted after talking with residents and the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

"Basically, it is a landscaping plan emphasizing the planting of a lot of shade trees," Bremner said.

"That is what prompted the project from the community standpoint. These new trees will shade the bleacher areas of the ball fields, (and) be planted along the Palolo Stream perimeter of the park. Tall trees with good-size umbrellas. They will also help shield the residents on the other side of the stream from the lights from the park."

The district park includes tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, baseball fields, a gymnasium and a community pavilion, all of which are heavily used by the area's 7,000 residents.

A senior center is also in the planning stages for the park.

The well-maintained park is situated in the center of the valley next to the Palolo Valley Homes public housing complex.

It is surrounded by steep mountain walls on three sides and has an expansive view of Diamond Head crater looking makai.

Work on the swimming pool resumed last week after the city and contractor KD Construction settled a dispute over tile repairs. The pool is expected to reopen in early August, a year after it was closed for work expected to last half that time.

Nakayama said the landscaping project has also taken time, but will be worth the effort.

"(USI) did the assessment and the design and took it to the community," Nakayama said. "We gave them our input, and now we are ready to implement. It is interesting how long it takes things like this to get done."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.