HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One month after the reopening of Kakaako Waterfront Park, many of problems that once plagued the area are gone.
"Now you at least have the freedom to walk around," said one park user, who was seen pushing his grandson in a stroller on Wednesday.
"This is how it's supposed to be," added Fred Remigio, who visits the park almost every day.
In October, growing safety concerns prompted the state to close the park indefinitely. Authorities said at the time that various acts of vandalism, sporadic fires and violent dog attacks – attributed the 180 homeless people who lived there – were some of the big reasons for the closure.
On Wednesday, the Hawaii Community Development Authority board learned the actual cost of the clean-up. The agency's acting director, Garett Kamemoto, says that repairs to reopen the park totaled $178,000; $110,000 of that amount was spent on electrical repairs after squatters damaged dozens of light poles in an attempt to tap into the electricity.
Damage estimates initially came in at $500,000. The HCDA also shelled out another $108,000 to the sheriff's department to cover overtime costs for security.
"When you ask the question, 'was it worth it,' I think everyone believes it was worth it," said Kamemoto.
Kamemoto says a private security detail in charge of enforcing park hours has been hired to deter squatters from setting up camp in the waterfront park. So far, that initiative appears to be working, but problems still persist with the illegal campers who are bouncing from the state land to city sidewalks.
"We keep working toward a resolution on that. That's not an easy solution," said Kamemoto. "It's a public resource. It's a public park. People are welcome in the park during the day. You can't enforce anything selectively against any group of people."
Kamemoto added the agency plans to complete additional repairs and improvements in future projects – something one park user says should have been done before it reopened.
"When you look around go to the bathroom, it's still on the filthy side. Not what it's supposed to be," said Remigio.