New path, staffing in the works as Ala Moana park upgrades continue

Ala Moana Beach Park

Renovations are already underway at Ala Moana Beach Park and on Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced what’s next.

We first reported on the park’s master plan last year, which included upgrading existing comfort stations and making the park safer for the people who use it.

Other items on the agenda: improving the walking path on Magic Island and installing LED lighting.

Caldwell says suggestions from Oahu residents drove the changes to “the people’s park.”

“The bottom line is people want to see this park restored and maintained better than it has been in the past, so we’re on the path to do exactly that,” Caldwell said.

On Tuesday, crews tore up the old jogging path to make way for a new red-brick-colored path, and the lights at the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue concession stand got a LED facelift.

Caldwell also outlined goals for 2016 and beyond, including hiring security personnel for when the park is closed, and improving sand quality and irrigation systems.

Other restrooms will also get the same renovations completed at the comfort station closest to the parking lot.

Caldwell said those changes will make a big difference, and it’s about preserving the park for many years to come.

“No, these things are not sexy. They’re not glamorous. They’re just things that need to be done that we listen to the community and we’re doing,” he said.

The price tag for the repairs to the jogging path comes in at $665,000, with the lights costing the city another $86,000.

The city is also working to make sure the park is fully staffed. Michelle Nekota, parks and recreation director, says 24 of 40 new parks employees were hired in the last six weeks.

“We hired 40 people to do additional work like trimming and sweeping leaves and those type of things, the detail work that we need to do to make a difference in the parks,” Nekota said.

Those employees are contracted through June 30. Meanwhile, the city is also looking to hire 15 permanent employees for various jobs around the park, including security, maintenance, and groundskeepers.

Caldwell says he will be asking the city council to fund those positions.

A playground also is in the works, with funding still to be determined. Caldwell says he is considering looking to the private sector for possible funding help.

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