Made in the shade


Old Kona Airport Park users may soon have more places to escape the glaring sun and heat.

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation is planning to use utility poles remaining from the first-ever Hawaii Lineman’s Rodeo held Feb. 23 to build two, possibly more, covered areas at the 117-acre park, said Deputy Director Bob Fitzgerald, who responded to requests for comment from Director Clayton Honma.

Fitzgerald said the county hopes to complete the project by the end of June. A cost estimate hasn’t been made. The department is also working with various community groups on the plan, which is preliminary and still being discussed, to help keep costs low.

The dozens of 44-foot-tall utility poles were installed at the park in February by Hawaii Electric Light Co. to host the rodeo. All but three pairs have been taken down and cut in half by the company, Fitzgerald said. The poles are currently being stored near the park’s canoe halau and may be used as dividers at the park.

HELCO also made various other improvements that included removing broken pavement and providing mulch and sand, he said. Fitzgerald anticipates the rodeo will continue to be held at Old Kona Airport in the future.

The six poles that are still standing makai of the Makaeo Events Pavilion have been designated for the covered areas. The poles, cut by HELCO to 10- and 12-foot lengths, will serve as support for a canvas cover.

One covered area will be located closer to the skating rink, while the other will be near the north gate, he said. In the future, additional covered areas could be built, he added.

The covered areas differ from pavilions because they will just have a removable canvas, rather than a permanent structure and amenities, Fitzgerald said. The county is still looking into whether permits would be required, but hopes to avoid the situation, if possible.

“We are trying to be creative with this,” he said about the permitting, also adding that the canvas can be easily removed.

All projects and work at the facility, including the lineman’s rodeo and associated improvements, work with the department’s plans for the long-planned Kailua Park, which is being planned by Kimura International, Fitzgerald said.

“Everything that is being done there is to fit in,” he said.