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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 26, 2005

Koko Head District Park at a crossroads

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

Players with the "Eastsidaz" basketball team practice at Koko Head District Park. Hawai'i Kai residents will begin preparing their list of priorities for park improvements during a neighborhood board meeting tomorrow. The earliest projects could be funded is 2007.

Photos by JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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WHERE TO GO

The Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board Parks and Recreation Committee will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Koko Head District Park, 423 Kaumakani St. The meeting will begin with a tour of the area and will be followed up with a discussion of priorities.

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Parts of Koko Head District Park are showing their age, including this deteriorating park bench. Meanwhile, termites have taken their toll on 30-year-old park buildings, which are sagging and in need of repair.

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HAWAI'I KAI Mary Houghton needs to know what residents want for Koko Head District Park. Among the possibilities: a swimming pool, a jogging/biking path and a BMX bike track.

Armed with the go-ahead from the city, Houghton, the Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board Parks Committee chairwoman, wants to get residents involved in the prioritizing process during a meeting at the park tomorrow. This will be the first meeting in more than a year in which the community can discuss the needs of Koko Head District Park.

The community has been talking about making improvements to Koko Head District Park home to softball, tennis and basketball players, and arts and crafts programs, for nearly five years now, Houghton said.

Three years ago the community backed a master plan that envisions $13 million in improvements, including a nine-hole disc golf course, a 50-meter swimming pool and a playground. The pool is expected to cost more than $5 million and require about $1 million a year in maintenance. At one point residents talked about creating a nonprofit group that could "adopt" the pool and pay for the maintenance.

In February the neighborhood board sent a letter to Mayor Mufi Hannemann reminding him of the community's desires for Koko Head District Park. The mayor responded in June, Houghton said, that the community should do what it can to prepare its to-do list for the city to consider for the next budget.

"This meeting is to find out what the community wants," Houghton said. "It's the beginning of the process and the earliest anything could be funded is 2007."

The city has financed work on Goeas Field, a baseball field that was built by the community years ago, and for the archery range at the Koko Head Shooting Complex. Work is expected to begin on those projects next month, Houghton said.

Meanwhile, the park buildings are termite-eaten, sagging and in need of upgrading. The community had tried to get the city to use some of its money to make improvements to the 30-year-old buildings that include multipurpose rooms, basketball courts, an aging playground and a gym.

Most of the 40-acre park remains undeveloped. Houghton hopes that the park will have some benefactors who will step forward and offer their expertise to help draft plans with the city to defray costs, similar to the help the Hawai'i Kai dog park is receiving, after the community sets the priorities.

"We (the neighborhood board) want to do what we can to get things done," Houghton said. "The pool has been the community's No. 1 priority."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.