Wish list completed


Fields and courts, playgrounds, paths and a large gathering area make up Kona’s preferred alternative for the long-stymied Kealakehe Regional Park.

The culmination of a two-day community workshop, the preferred plan unveiled Saturday addresses not only much of the community’s needs, but also its wants, for the park, said Roy Lambrecht, a 45-year Kailua-Kona resident and West Hawaii Parks and Athletics Corp. board member who took part in the planning exercise.

“Everything that was suggested by the groups in the workshop is here,” he said, explaining that during the workshop groups analyzed alternatives and selected favorite points that were ultimately worked into the preferred alternative. “It is absolutely phenomenal. It’s going to be such a beautiful thing for the kids of the future. Getting this done will be fabulous.”

The park would be situated on 190 acres near Kealakehe High School. As proposed in the preferred plan it will include 35 acres of constructed wetland to collect water used for landscaping.

Planner Kimura International estimates the park’s cost would range between $74.5 million and $85.4 million. A cost breakdown was not available for the preferred alternative that planners developed overnight Friday and presented to the public Saturday morning.

A couple dozen people perused the preferred plan and provided additional input and suggestions to the planners and county officials during an open house at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Kimura International continues to seek input, which can be provided via the park’s website kealakeheregionalpark.com.

Included in the preferred plan, which may be altered during the rest of the master planning process expected to wrap up in spring 2013, are:

A college/high school baseball field

Two Pony baseball fields

Three softball fields

A 27-field soccer complex

12 regulation tennis courts

Two tennis stadiums

Four paddle tennis courts

A grass holua (slide)

Four covered basketball courts

20 archery stations

A dog park

A football, rugby and soccer field

A plaza with a skate park, water playground, concessions, events pavilion and certified kitchen

Numerous playgrounds, other pavilions and restrooms

Not included, but proposed in three alternatives unveiled at the start of the planning workshops, were a disc golf course, a driving range and volleyball courts.

Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald said the park could be built even though the county hasn’t yet secured funding. Among the options to make the park a reality are constructing it in phases, using county general obligation bonds to pay for it, and raising money through the recently created 501(c)(3) West Hawaii Parks and Athletics Corp.

Specifics on county plans for bringing the park to fruition should come out in early 2013 once the planner has completed the final master plan. Details on the phasing will also be more concrete then, but he said the park would likely begin with infrastructure, the central plaza and covered play courts.

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, according to the planners, the land was proposed for a Kealakehe Sports Complex with a gym, pool, tennis courts, concert hall, soccer field and scores of other amenities. By 1990, the land was proposed as an 18-hole public golf course and effluent disposal area. Neither was implemented on the state land provided by executive order to the county for recreational use.

In July, the county paid Kimura $277,000 to develop the park’s master plan. Kimura in 2009 master-planned Kailua Park.

For more information and to provide input, visit the project’s website at kealakeheregionalpark.com.