The long-sought Kealakehe Regional Park could cost more than $85 million, Hawaii County officials and park planners revealed Thursday in Kailua-Kona.
However, park funding has yet to be secured, said Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald. Despite that, he said the park can be brought to fruition through a variety of cost-saving measures, partnerships and construction phasing. He pointed to general obligation bonds and the recent creation of the 501(c)(3) West Hawaii Parks and Athletics Corp. as funding means.
“I believe we can see this park during my time,” he said, in reference to getting the park under way during the next four years he is a member of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s cabinet.
Planner Kimura International presented three preliminary alternatives for the proposed 190-acre regional park below Ane Keohokalole Highway on the first day of a three-day forum to plan the park. The alternatives were developed based on suggestions and ideas provided during a Sept. 27 public meeting.
Each alternative includes a varying number of:
Baseball, softball, soccer, football and disc golf fields,
Tennis, paddle ball, basketball and beach volleyball courts
Biking and pedestrian paths
Water-play fountain, playground and dog park
Certified kitchen, comfort stations, offices and a baseyard
Amphitheater and pavilions
One alternative includes a driving range.
The price varies depending on how many of the amenities are included, said planner Glenn Kimura, president of Kimura International. Alternative 1, the middle-priced alternative with the driving range, would cost $78.89 million; Alternative 2, the highest-priced, costs $85.4 million; and Alternative 3, the cheapest, has a $74.5 million price tag. An events pavilion would add an additional $11 million.
More than 40 people attended the first day of a two-day master plan workshop and subsequent open house for the proposed park.
The workshop, which required registration in advance, continues today from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Those who didn’t register may attend tonight and Saturday’s events, but workshop booklets may not be available.
During the workshop Thursday, participants evaluated preliminary alternative plans and provided input. The meeting had yet to conclude as of press time.
After tonight’s meeting, planners will assemble the information and input provided during the first two days and come up with a hybrid plan to present during Saturday’s open house.
Kimura International plans to submit to the county a final report in spring 2013. It received a $277,000 contract to develop the plan, which should be viable for 20 years.
The county has tried unsuccessfully to build the park for nearly 40 years, according to studies and newspaper articles dating back to 1976. In 1985, the land was proposed for a Kealakehe Sports Complex, and in 1990 an 18-hole golf course was planned. Neither was built.
The county had an executive order designating the then-state land for a golf course and some other park amenities. In January 2011, an amended executive notice was signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie putting the 190 acres under county control for a regional park.
For more information, visit kealakeheregionalpark.com.