As Kakaako parks re-open, governor pledges tougher enforcement efforts
KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Weeks after they were closed for homeless sweeps, Kewalo Basin and Kakaako Gateway parks and Point Panic reopened Monday.
Meanwhile, Kakaako Waterfront Park remains closed indefinitely because of $500,000 worth of damage.
Now the state is making changes to ensure no one is allowed in the parks after hours.
Effective immediately, deputy sheriffs will enforce park closure hours every night at all Kakaako parks. In a news conference, Gov. David Ige said the new procedures were to ensure parks stay open to the public.
"We are beginning to enforce in that whole area from Kakaako all the way to the Nimitz Viaduct and out to Nimitz Highway," Ige said.
After a three-week hiatus, Kanekoa Crabbe was anxious to visit Point Panic on Monday.
"Yea, we're very happy that it's reopened," said Crabbe.
Besides being a park regular, Crabbe organizes the annual body surfing championship here. Word that park closure hours will now be enforced every night came as welcome news.
"I think that's great," said Crabbe. "A bunch of my friends primarily surfers and body surfers had a hard time accessing the ocean because both parks Kewalos and Point Panic were closed."
The state hopes to have a new security company hired by the middle of next month.
On top of making sure everyone is out of the parks after hours it will be tasked with providing homeless outreach when necessary. Security officers will also be responsible for storing property and calling the sheriff's department if anyone refuses to leave.
"Right now there's a culture in the park where folks know that if they don't leave nothing is going to happen so we would like that to change," said Jesse Souki
For now HCDA staff will go out with sheriff's deputies each night to make sure squatters don't establish any new camps before the security company is hired.
Money for the security contract will come out of the HCDA's budget. It's not yet clear how much the security detail will cost.
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