Skateboarders will soon have an official place to roll in Waikoloa. They’ll be able practice slides, pop ollies and land kick-flips at the new Kamakoa Nui Skatepark, a facility that’s been in the making for nearly a decade.
A grand opening will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the venue, located at the county’s Kamakoa Nui Park at the end of Paniolo Estates on Iwikuamoo Street. Residents may be among the first to skate phase one of the plaza-style facility, but helmets are required.
During the celebration, they may enter a Best Trick Contest to win prizes.
The event also features a silent auction, food, music, shave ice and family-friendly activities.
Funds will be raised for the skate park’s second phase, anticipated to cost about $200,000.
This final phase will enlarge the skating area and include landscaping features. Granite tiles, to be etched and placed along the walls, are available for sale, with $50, $250 and $500 options.
All proceeds go toward the facility.
Transition Youth Projects, a nonprofit, will manage the project until funding is complete, and help maintain the skate park, said Laura Werneck, Transition Youth Projects’ secretary.
The goal is to have skateboarding leagues, competitions between the island’s various skate parks and keiki skateboarding clinics, said Sherry Davis, Waikoloa Community Development Corporation president.
The skate park was initiated in 2004 by Waikoloa Community Development Corp., a nonprofit helping to provide recreational resources for Waikoloa, “a bedroom community where there has been a lot of growth pains and not always a strong sense of community,” Davis said. There are no public swimming pools, bowling alleys, movie theaters or a youth center in the area.
Waikoloa Community Development Corp. decided to pursue a skate park because parks, youth activities and after-school programs are “protective agents that help build strong families which in turn build strong communities.”
It also cited a national survey that found extracurricular sports activities are effective in curbing juvenile delinquency and increasing academic performance, as well as promoting teamwork and discipline, developing confidence, and fostering the desire to pursue meaningful goals, Davis said.
Skateboarding, in particular, does not require a lot of money, equipment or team membership to participate. The physical act works to build cardio and core strength, improve flexibility, and develop balance and coordination skills, Davis said.
Bob Fitzgerald, deputy director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation, said skateboarding is growing in popularity, thanks to events such as the X Games, and skateboarding and surfing, which started in Hawaii, go hand-in-hand.
Waikoloa has been long overdue for a skate park, he added, and when you don’t have a skate park, the neighborhood becomes a skate park.
The lack of appropriate facilities has forced skateboarders to use public and commercial property — a serious problem in Waikoloa.
In 2010, a young man skated into the street into a moving car and broke his arm.
The same year, another skater jumped off his board when skating on a public road, fell backward and died, according to the Waikoloa Community Development Corp. “While no sport is without risk, skateboarding within a skate park designed for the sport greatly reduces the risks of accidents and injuries,” it stated.
Laurie Jo Rogers, who was on Waikoloa Community Development Corp.’s first board of directors, spearheaded the initial planning and design of the skate park. Chris Dien-Gaughen and Tom Kelly have also managed the project at different times. It’s been a real community-led, grassroots effort and great partnership with the county, Davis said.
“There have been many people involved over the years. Lots of organizations and companies have donated time, money and talent to get us to this point,” she said. “Christian Renz of Pacific Aina Design LLC, Yen Wen Fang of Engineering Partners Inc., Cielito Rooney Inc. and many more have given their resources to see that the necessary planning, engineering and social media work was done.”
Originally the plans were to build the skate park in the Pui Nui Community Park. But after conducting community impact studies, it was decided the facility should be built at Hooko Street Park. Then Parks and Recreation, under Fitzgerald’s guidance, offered to expand the skate park’s size and move it to Kamakoa Nui Park, at the end of the new workforce housing area, Davis said. This area allowed for a 13,899-square-foot facility with flat surfaces, stairs, rails, ramps, bumps and other features that skateboarders of all skill levels and ages will enjoy, she added.
This skate park was designed and built by California Skateparks, which specializes in the design and build of public and private concrete skate parks, plaza, skate spots and progressive recreational facilities worldwide.
California Skateparks employee and Kapaau resident Brian Sandlin served as project manager.
Sandlin has designed skate parks for five years and has been skateboarding for 23. Not only is it his main source of exercise, it’s also his passion.
Phase 1 cost $300,000. Mayor Billy Kenoi committed $40,000 from the county. Former county councilman Pete Hoffmann, who was also Waikoloa Community Development Corp.’s first president, contributed $37,000 in contingency funds.
“As a resident of Waikoloa village, I’m extremely pleased to see the grand opening of this skate park,” Hoffmann said. “This represents the culmination of a lengthy process in which many in this community as well as others throughout the Big Island came together to complete a first-class facility.”
Construction of Phase 1 started in February and three to seven crew members worked on it at a time. This phase consists of a 7,700-square-foot skating area, best suited for beginners and intermediate skateboarders. For the bowls, there was a 6-foot height limit. Because it’s aesthetically pleasing, no fence was required, Sandlin said.
For months, Sandlin said keiki have come to the skate park, excited and anxious, wanting to ride on any part of it. He and his crew often have to kick them out. He looks forward to telling the youngsters “to have at it and have fun” Sunday.
Donations for the skate park can be sent to Transition Youth Projects or Waikoloa Community Development Corporation, both of which can be reached at P.O. Box 383097, Waikoloa, HI 96738. For more information, call Davis at 883-2748 or Werneck at 883-3409 or visit waikoloaskatepark.com.