Waialua residents in the dark about delay replacing lights at popular park

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the the sun goes down over Oahu's North Shore, the only lights that turn on at the Waialua District Park are the ones over the tennis courts.

The rest of the athletic complex is plunged into darkness.

In March of last year, the city removed the lights over the swimming pool, the baseball diamond and softball field, as well as the large playing field for football and soccer, in what they labelled a safety precaution.

"All of the lights were corroded, so we had to take them out," said Michele Nekota, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Park users understand the city's reasoning, but say they're perplexed over why the field has been without lights for more than a year.

"We have about 300 to 400 community members every single week that were using this park with the permits, with the lights," said Ken Capes, who organizes soccer matches at the facility. "So every single week 300 to 400 community members aren't using this park at night time."

"There's several organizations, softball, soccer, the high school swim team, the junior baseball team, they would often be on the fields at night too," said Michael McNeace, parks committee chairman for the North Shore Neighborhood Board.

The city says it isn't ignoring the need for new field lights; it just doesn't know when they'll be installed.

"We have to go through the planning and design phase," Nekota said. "We do have money proposed in Fiscal Year 2018, to do planning and design, for about $300,000."

The rest of the work could take many more months to complete. In the meantime, most of the park can only be used during daylight hours.

"This is such an important place to our community. We have a lot of people missing out," Capes said.

Rather than sit idly, members of the Waialua community are exploring the option of raising its own money and giving it the city, in order to speed up the process.

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