More than 100 vacancies in Honolulu parks department, one-third - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

More than 100 vacancies in Honolulu parks department, one-third for groundskeepers

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Broken urinals, vandalized walls, and rusted floors are common sights at beach bathrooms around Honolulu.     

"You'll go from stall to stall to stall and a lot of them don't have locks, they'll be out of toilet paper, there's just gross stuff spread around, it's just kinda gross," said beachgoer Leah Maio.   

"It's always dirty in the mornings. I know the people here try to clean it. But even when they do that, I don't think they have enough time or people to take care of it because it's always pretty filthy," Dan Stein, another beachgoer, said.

The Department of Parks and Recreation Director Michele Nekota said they are 105 vacant positions in the department, about one-third of those positions are for parks’ groundskeepers.

Why aren't those positions filled?

Nekota said these entry-level positions have high turnover rates.

"Because those people who are in grounds keeping, they might be promoted or transferred to another location, another district, and then after that, that entry-level position becomes vacant," Nekota said.

But Nekota said things are getting better. Around this time in 2012, the Department counted 179 vacancies, in 2013, there were 164 vacant positions, and in 2014, it had 120 vacancies.

Nekota says they're busy renovating bathrooms and restoring playgrounds around the city that are either aging or have been damaged by vandals. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell set aside $2 million earlier this year to refurbish 24 bathrooms and 16 playgrounds around the city in a year.

Hawaii News Now calculated the more-than-hundred vacant positions save the department millions of dollars.

But when asked, Nekota said it's not a tactic they use for saving money.

"No, not at all. We want to fill our positions and were trying to fill them as fast as we can," said Nekota.

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