City closes 2 busy Ala Wai parks for the next few months

Officials insist it’s for maintenance, but critics believe it’s an attempt to move a growing homeless population.

City closes 2 busy Ala Wai parks for the next few months
The city is closing two busy Ala Wai parks for maintenance. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -Ala Wai Community Park and Ala Wai Neighborhood Park are closed to the public and won't be re-opening until the day after Christmas.

Officials insist they’re shutting the area down to address much needed improvements, but critics argue it’s the latest park targeted for a growing homeless population which the city is trying to clear out by restricting access.

Community members have expressed their concern about the influx of homeless campers that have descended upon the area after other nearby parks, including Old Stadium Park and Moiliili Field, which were recently closed for maintenance last month.

City officials say homeless outreach crews have spent the last several days in the area letting those who’ve been staying overnight know about the closures and offering to take them to shelters to connect them with the services they may need.

Unlike prior park closures, officials say this shutdown will not affect areas that do not need maintenance, including the baseball fields, the soccer field, parking lots, a recreation building, a community garden, a dog park and the canoe hale buildings.

In addition, officials say any previously scheduled Parks and Recreation classes and programs, as well as league play or permitted activities will still be allowed, though regular park hours will apply.

Keep in mind: the restroom facilities will be closed, but officials say they'll be bringing in portables.

Among the improvements the city has planned are planting, fertilizing and aerating new grass, trimming trees and removing graffiti.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.