Sunday | May 29, 2016
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Kohanaiki park blessed

A long-fought-for beach park in North Kona was blessed and dedicated Tuesday.

Concerned about development plans, community members, including those who formed the Kohanaiki Ohana, pushed for a park on the Kohanaiki shoreline, which is home to the popular “Pine Trees” surf, dive and camping spot.

Development plans for the parcel go back until at least the mid-1980s, then under Kona Beach Development Venture. That company’s original plan for the land included two hotels, 1,150 homes, a 150-slip marina and a golf course.

A good faith agreement, reached in 2003, called for Rutter Development to set aside 128 acres for open space at the Kohanaiki property. According to documents filed with the Planning Department, about 63 acres was to be the golf course, managed by the development. Another 38 acres was to be active park land. Park ownership was to be transferred to the county or to a quasi-public entity to manage the park, the original proposal said.

Today, the 38-acre Kohanaiki Beach Park features 121 parking spaces, toilets, showers, a halau for cultural practices and other amenities. Kohanaiki Shores LLC plans to build 500 luxury homes and a golf course on 470 acres about four miles north of Kailua-Kona. The current jeep trail will revert to pedestrian access only and become part of the 150-mile Ala Kahakai Trail around the island.

The park will be open daily and available for camping five days a week for up to 80 campers a night. Park hours for day use will be from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Camping administration will eventually transition to the Department of Parks and Recreation, but is currently handled by Kohanaiki Shores. Camping permits are issued at the beach on a first come, first served basis. For more information and for reservations, call 329-6200.

The park’s completion represents years of collaboration and negotiation between lineal descendants of the area, community groups, the county and Kohanaiki Shores. Ongoing responsibilities for the park will be shared between Kohanaiki Shores, the County and the community.

“The new park at Kohanaiki is a great addition to our growing West Hawaii community,” said Parks and Recreation Director Clayton Honma. “The new facilities make this a safe place for our families to spend time together, and make it possible for more members of our community to enjoy this treasure.”