Councilman to city: If you light it, they will come

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

WAIALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When city officials removed the lights that illuminated facilities at Waialua District Park, they cited fixtures that were corroded and unsafe as the reason why.

That was nearly two years ago, and after the sun sets on the North Shore, the park is still in the dark.

"This is a very simple project that should have been done yesterday," City Councilman Ernie Martin said.

Martin says he's fed up with how long it's taking the city to replace the lights. His constituents want to have access to play and swim at night, so's he's proposing a temporary (and relatively simple) solution: portable lights.

"How do they light up the street festivals? They bring in portable lights. That type of technology is available," he says.

Ken Capes, who organizes soccer matches in Waialua, told Hawaii News Now he was excited by the idea.

"I prefer something rather than nothing, that's for sure," he said. "I would love to have something so we could get everybody out there having fun again."

"I think it's a great idea. I've seen these lights before," added Bob Atwood, an area swim coach. "I think they would be perfect for our situation over here at Waialua."

City Department of Design and Construction director Robert Kroning, however, believes installing temporary lights is "not a safe option" since they wouldn't adequately light the entire swimming pool, which would make it hard to see a swimmer in distress.

"Such lights would also not provide adequate illumination for safe use of the ball fields. Safety is our top priority," he said.

Before the lights went out, according to the city's own estimate, roughly 400 people used the park per week. Atwood's swim club practiced in the pool at night, but some of his swimmers were forced to move on after the lights were removed.

"Without hope to work out and compete in swim meets, you can't expect them to hang around and wait forever," he said

The city set aside over $7 million to replace the lights, so the money's there,  but officials said late last year that it could take another couple of years before the full lighting work was complete.

Kroning said the city is working with a project consultant on the design of the lighting system for the ball fields, and the project is expected to go out to bid for construction later this year.

Martin doesn't understand why replacing the lights is considered so complex.

"It boggles the mind we would have to even do a design phase," he said. "All we are talking about is replacing some light poles and light fixtures. How much design has to be done for something that simple?"

Martin will submit his portable lights proposal to the City Council's Parks Committee before it goes to the full council..

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