City: Park security program leading to lower vandalism repair costs

City: Park security program leading to lower vandalism repair costs

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials say park security programs across Oahu have proven so successful over the last two years that for the first time, it’s now costing the city less to address vandalism.

In fact, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation, officials spent nearly $234,000 to address damage caused by vandalism during the 2018 fiscal year. But that was down 5% in 2019 to nearly $223,000.

Officials clarify these costs do not include the price of capital improvement projects needed to address extreme damage from vandalism — like the two arson cases at Kaiaka Bay Beach Park and Keehi Lagoon. They say both of these criminal acts cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars to replace the torched facilities.

“From the very beginning our parks have been a priority for this administration, and while the ultimate solution is to foster greater respect for our public areas, these security programs at select parks are working,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a statement issued to Hawaii News Now.

“Whether it’s park rangers, security cameras, locking our parks or having private security guards conduct patrols, these new tools have shown positive results and I’m happy our program is expanding with partnership and support from the City Council and from the state through the Hawaii Tourism Authority.”

Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako is one of the areas city officials are pointing to as a proof their park security program is working.

It’s one of 59 parks across Oahu where comfort stations and parking lots are locked by a contracted security company each evening during closure hours, then reopened at 5 a.m.

The pilot project began with just 25 locations in urban Honolulu in April of 2018 and will be expanding to 62 parks in the near future stretching from Sandy Beach to Waianae, down the North Shore and along the Windward Coast.

Mother Waldron is also one of nine Honolulu locations where private security guards help patrol the area for illegal homeless activity around the clock.

The pilot project began in November of 2018, in which pairs of unarmed private security guards monitor the parks three times per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Officials say it has been so successful the City Council has approved $1.2 million to keep the program running and to eventually expand it to other locations.

This initiative is separate from the park rangers that are staffed at Ala Moana Regional Park, Kapiolani Park and Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Officials say park rangers will eventually be stationed within Kakaako park lands as well, but the Kakaako Gateway and Waterfront Parks are still in the process of being transferred to the city by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes coming to district parks is the installation of security cameras through a partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which is covering the $204,000 to install approximately 192 cameras at 13 locations island-wide including Foster Botanical Garden, the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park, Kualoa Regional Park, Ala Moana Regional Park, Kapiolani Park and Hauula, Kalama, Kuhio, Makaha, Makapuu, Oneula and Waimanalo Bay Beach Parks.

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