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Waimea park plan moves forward


Hawaii County is moving forward with plans to construct a long-awaited recreational area in Waimea.

A final environmental assessment for the Waimea District/Regional Park was released Friday with a finding of no significant impact allowing the project to move forward. The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation plans to start work on the project after plans and permit applications are approved, though it gave no specific date.

The park will be a master-planned facility that will offer diversified recreational opportunities for both indoor and outdoor activities, according to the department. It will be developed in two phases with the first phase comprising approximately 24 ares as a district park. A second phase would add some 26 acres to the park, thus expanding it to a regional park.

“The primary purpose of the Waimea District/Regional Park is to address a deficiency of athletic and recreational opportunities for Waimea residents and for other surrounding communities in the South Kohala District,” reads the final environmental assessment, which will be published in the Dec. 23 edition of the state Office of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Notice.

“The park will include fields for football, rugby, soccer, baseball and softball, as well as a covered play area for sports such as volleyball and basketball. The park will also provide a larger community gathering area to address existing and future demand.”

The first phase, estimated to cost $30.3 million, should be complete by 2020 and the second phase, at a cost of $6.6 million. Both phases would be built after approximately $4.3 in mass grading/earth work and offsite improvements are complete.

Funding for the project is still being sought, however, some $2.5 million was appropriated by the state Legislature in 2013 for initial design and engineering work for the park. Mayor Billy Kenoi in a recent bond request, sought another $2.5 million for the park. The Hawaii County Council will vote on the bond request in January.

Among the plans to be included in the project’s first phase are: a covered play court, multi-use community building, community gathering/family recreation area, a comfort station, a pavilion, two multi-use regulation-size football/rugby/soccer fields, one youth baseball/softball field, and a multi-use walkway and trail, according to the assessment. The walkway and trail is limited to walking and jogging, only.

The second phase is slated to include: an additional football/rugby/soccer field, an additional youth baseball/softball field, two regulation baseball/softball fields, extension of the walkway and trail, two additional comfort stations, and, if the budget permits, converting the covered play courts that were constructed in the first phase into a gymnasium.

The county also plans room for a public art display, according to the assessment. The display area is being considered for the community gathering/family recreation area and multi-use community building.

“The public art display will help the community to explore its history and culture and provide a sense of ownership to the local community,” the assessment reads. … “A collaborative effort between DPR (the county Department of Parks and Recreation), artists, park design team, and the community will facilitate the design of the public art display areas in the park.

Land for the park’s first phase was obtained via a condition of Parker Ranch Land Trust’s approval for the Waimea Town Center, according to the assessment, which noted the property has yet to be deeded to or accepted by the county. Parker Ranch has also agreed to reserve the additional lands for expansion.

The site is bordered by Ala Ohia Road on the northwest, Parker Ranch headquarters to the west and undeveloped, vacant lands to the north, south and east. A new driveway, connected to Ala Ohia Road, between the intersections with Mamalahoa Highway and Kaomoloa Road, will provide access to the park.

Planning for the park has been in the works for more than five years with seven community meetings held, two community surveys conducted and a two-day planning workshop during that time to solicit input. The site for the park was selected in 2009 from nine sites in the Waimea area and a master plan completed thereafter.

The final assessment can be viewed in its entirety on the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s website at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov. To find the Waimea assessment, select EA_and_EIS_Online_Library, then Hawaii and lastly select 2010s. The file is located at the bottom of the page.