Budgets cut, but not weeds, so residents take on park maintenance

Published: Aug. 6, 2011 at 7:40 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 6, 2011 at 7:59 PM HST
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By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

SALT LAKE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Salt Lake District Park has only one maintenance person to take care of the facility, which includes a baseball field, a swimming pool and a gym. And that's why about 20 volunteers showed up Saturday with gardening gloves, rakes, weed whackers and dozens of garbage bags.

There used to be a full-time and a part-time maintenance worker for the park, but the part-time position was cut after the city cut the budget.

"They've seen a ten percent reduction in their park maintenance budget," said Sen. Glenn Wakai (D-Kalihi, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Pearl Harbor, Aiea), who organized the volunteer effort. "DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) on the state level has seen a 30 percent reduction in their maintenance fund."

According to Wakai, some state parks that used to have grass and weeds cut once a month are now having it done just four times a year.

At Salt Lake, the volunteers -- including Wakai -- tackled an overgrowth of grass and weeds along a fence line at the park. He said neighbors had been complaining about the overgrowth. But longtime Salt Lake resident Yvonne Miranda wasn't complaining; she was helping to rake up the grass at the park she uses.

"I basically come here to walk," she said. "And I walk the perimeter, like, four or five times."

"It's a nice park," said Salt Lake Neighborhood Board Chairman David Yomes, who was covered with sweat and grass clippings as he, too, attacked the overgrowth with a weed whacker, revealing a chain-link fence. "This has been here for years, and now we can see the fence," he said, laughing.

Yomes also said because of the effort, the lone maintenance worker may have a better chance of keeping up with the weeds.

"The city assured us that once we cut it down they'll upkeep the fence line, so that's a good thing," he said. "So I think community projects in any community is good. It's good camaraderie, and we work with each other, we meet our neighbors. It's a good thing."

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