Waiākea-Uka Park to Expand
With less than a month remaining before state funding authorization lapses, the County of Hawai‘i has received recording clearance on June 4, 2018, for the purchase of a 1-acre parcel of land adjacent to Waiākea-Uka Park in Hilo for the assessed value of $180,900, according to a press release from the Office of Councilmember Susan L.K. Lee Loy.
Waiākea-Uka Park, with its two ballfields, a state-of-the-art playground, and the 79-year-old Stanley Costales Waiākea-Uka Gym, has served as the social and recreational hub of the community for many years.
However, the parking lot has not grown large enough to accommodate the increased uses. As a result, during events at the park, people have had to park alongside ‘Āinaola Drive, creating a safety hazard for people crossing the street and reducing sight distances for people attempting to exit Ho‘ohoaloha Street.
Rep. Richard Onishi secured funding through the 2015 session of the Legislature with the intent of purchasing an adjacent parcel to the park and creating parking and planning for a possible future community center. The appropriation to the Department of Land and Natural Resources was then delegated to the County of Hawai‘i with the requirement that it be expended by June 30, 2018.
As the deadline to use the funds neared, through community networking a 1-acre parcel adjacent to the park (TMK: 2-4-035:001) owned by Marlene Hapai, Ph.D., was identified, and the Hapais expressed interest. Following an appraisal, negotiations with Dr. Hapai were conducted by the Property Management Division of the County’s Finance Department.
“We bought this property with intentions of doing something meaningful for the community,” Dr. Hapai said. “Lively discussions at the dinner table included building a store, senior housing, or even a dog park. When approached by Councilmember Lee Loy to add our property to the existing park complex and build a pavilion for the growing Waiākea Uka community’s use, this new vision seemed the best fit. We are excited to see this happen and thank Sue and Rep. Onishi for their leadership.”
Councilmember Lee Loy wishes to thank, in no particular order, Rep. Onishi and staff, Department of Parks and Recreation Business Manager Reid Sewake, P&R Director Roxcie Waltjen, P&R Deputy Director Maurice “Mo” Messina, Property Manager Hamana Ventura of the Department of Finance, Marlene and Archie Hapai, and the Waiākea-Uka community for their patience and understanding.
“I’m so grateful for the community networking and effective collaborations between Rep. Onishi, the state, county, the Hapais and the community to provide this expansion at the Waiakea Uka area,” said Councilmember Lee Loy, who made this acquisition a high priority. “I look forward to creating and delivering more opportunities like this for our community.”