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Council supports skate park in Hilo

August 16, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — Hawaii County Council members advanced a resolution Tuesday supporting a skate park in Hilo after hearing from skateboarders and Paradise Roller Girl members disappointed with years of delays.

“It’s become a frustrating process, often feeling like we are getting nowhere,” said Mealoha Kraus, secretary of the Hilo Skateplaza Coalition.

The group has spent the last seven years or more raising money for a skating rink and park in Hilo, and recently was working with the county on building a temporary skate park in a bayfront parking lot. That proposal, however, was pulled by the administration because the area wasn’t seen as suitable.

Parks and Recreation Director Charmaine Kamaka said Monday the county still supports a skate park and is looking at two sites — one behind the Charles “Sparky” Kawamoto Swim Stadium and across from the Afook-Chinen

Civic Auditorium — for building a permanent facility.

“We’re not on a time frame right now,” she said, adding the site and funding sources need to be settled.

About 10 people spoke in favor of the resolution, introduced by Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy.

Lee Loy said during the Public Works &Parks and Recreation Committee meeting that she shares their frustration.

“We need to provide them a legal avenue to utilize just like we provide soccer fields for people with soccer balls and baseball parks for people with bats and gloves,” she said, noting skating is illegal on streets and sidewalks in the county.

The resolution says there are skate parks in Honokaa, Waimea, Kapa‘au, Waikoloa, Kailua-Kona, Volcano and Pahoa.

Kraus said a makeshift skate park, with a few ramps and rails, built near Leleiwi Point shows local skaters are desperate for a facility.

The county asked the skaters to halt the construction since the foundation they used is part of the former Puumaile Hospital. The state Historic Preservation Division is investigating.

One of the ramp builders told the Tribune-Herald their presence is keeping drug users out of the area. The skating community recently organized a cleanup of the area, commonly called Kings Landing.

Kamaka, who participated in the cleanup, said close to 4,000 pounds of rubbish was hauled away.

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