Caldwell makes park repair a priority in proposed budget

Published: Mar. 4, 2013 at 9:58 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2013 at 4:50 AM HST
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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Rusty equipment at Palolo District Park
Rusty equipment at Palolo District Park
Tasha Gonsalves
Tasha Gonsalves
Teri Yamane
Teri Yamane

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A massive pile of debris consisting of old air conditioner and microwave parts sits in plain sight at the Old Stadium Park. Under Mayor Kirk Caldwell's newly proposed budget, the park and dozens of other areas around Oahu would get new life.

"We are committed to make sure that our parks are cleaner," said Caldwell last Friday at a news conference. "That when you walk into the bathrooms, they are in good condition. That when you walk around on the grass, the sprinklers are working and the grass is green, the trees are trimmed. That you feel like you are walking in your own back or front yard."

As part of his $2 billion budget proposal, Caldwell is asking nearly $18 million be set aside to fix up parks across the island.

The Old Stadium Park is on the early list for equipment replacement, but park goers feel more problems need to be addressed.

"The grass could be cut, the bathrooms could be cleaner, the homeless problem is probably the biggest problem," said Aina Haina resident Tasha Gonsalves, who was at the park with her family. "It's a safety issue."

Gonsalves also admits she doesn't feel safe having her children run around at the park.

"I try to keep them out of the grass," Gonsalves said. "I don't know what is in the grass. I don't know if people do drugs in the grass, I don't know if there's needles."

Palolo District Park is also on the short list for improvements. Back in November 2011, a swings structure had only one swing and the surface underneath was littered with potholes.

More than a year later, there aren't any swings and the potholes remain.

Teri Yamane, a mother of four, feels the conditions are an accident waiting to happen.

"There are a few parks that are really really nice and there are so many that aren't kept up at all," Yamane said. "You have to question, 'If I live here, why is my park like this and why is that park like that when we are all under the same roof, being a county?"

Caldwell's proposal still needs to be approved by the City Council, which has until mid-June to balance the budget.

If everything goes through, repairs could begin this year.

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