Aikahi Elementary clears confusion over playground

Many parents call it one of Oahu’s best playgrounds for young children, but not everyone’s welcome. In fact, some families are being turned away from Aikahi playground and aren’t sure why.

The playground actually sits on Aikahi Elementary School property. Many students are on spring break this week, so it’s no surprise that many families brought their kids to play.

“It’s the best park in Kailua,” said Enchanted Lake resident Denise Roedell. “Especially when it’s a weekend, you don’t go anywhere else. This is where you meet. If you’re not going to the beach, you’re going to go to a park. You’re going to go to Aikahi.”

The state says Aikahi Playground is off limits to the public, but on Friday, many were people using it.

“I’ve been asked to leave (by someone from the school),” said Mark Kaanapu, a Kailua resident who was at the playground with his nephew.

“It is a school playground,” said Aikahi Elementary principal Lynn Kobayashi. “It’s not a park that’s opened to the public, and in the best interest of the school and the students, for safety reasons, it’s not opened to the public.”

Some residents say closing the playground to the community isn’t right.

“To have such an amazing park that’s a huge part of the community, for them to say no to people using this park when school’s not in session, is to me, just not okay,” Roedell said.

The Department of Education says safety for its students is first and foremost.

“Especially in a post-Sandy Hook world where we try to make sure we monitor and shape who comes on that campus, especially during school hours, but after hours as well,” said Ray L’Heureux, assistant superintendent at the State Department of Education.

When asked if she would consider opening up the park after hours or on the weekends, Kobayashi said, “Well, no comment here. I’d have to meet with my superiors to discuss it.”

In the meantime, Kobayashi says posting more signs in the area could be a starting point.

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