Portions of Richardson Ocean Park to Be Closed For Construction
Portions of a popular beach park in Hilo will be closed beginning next week because of construction work.
Beginning June 6, the parking lot at Richardson Ocean Park will be closed to the public and a portion of the park from the parking lot to an area below the comfort station will be coned off for the first phase of a construction project. Pedestrian access through a portion of the parking lot and around both sides of the Richardson Ocean Center will remain open. In addition, existing restrooms and showers will remain available for public use.
The construction zone will then expand, as early as July 5, to encompass the entire parking lot and perimeter of the ocean center. Access to the park’s shoreline areas will be maintained throughout the project, while access to the sandy beach area will be provided only via the makai side of the building. The existing showers and public restrooms will also then be closed for construction. Portable toilets and handwashing stations and a new shower area will be provided for the public for the remainder of the project.
Water safety officers with the Hawai‘i Fire Department will maintain regular oversight at the park throughout the project’s time frame. The $2.9 million project is expected to be complete next February.
There could be temporary, short closures of more areas of the park if construction requires. There also might be temporary disruptions to water service that will affect the availability of showers.
The project is required for the county’s compliance with its transition plan, mandated by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The primary goal of the project is to establish safe and equal access to the public facilities, amenities and programs at the park. In addition, the project will deliver improved access to the sandy areas of the park, major renovations to the ocean center and accessibility improvements and repairs to the restrooms, showers and parking lot.
“We understand the timing of this work, at the start of summer and following more than two years of COVID-19 impacts on our community, may seem in poor judgment,” county Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina said in a press release. “However, honoring the county’s and our community’s obligation to provide ADA access at this top-rated beach park is long overdue. The time frame required to implement the work in this sensitive coastal environment and repair such a significant, historic building meant the project would impact summertime use either this year or next.”
Once completed, Messina said all park users will appreciate the improvements for years to come.
“Our Hilo beach parks are used so heavily year-round that there’s never a good time to do construction work,” he said in the press release. “However, our aging shoreline facilities especially require significant repairs and upgrades, and we ask that the public bear with us and accommodate the needed work here.”