Kakaako Waterfront Park will be closing early starting Thursday — at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. — because of vandalism that’s made it dangerous for anyone to be there at night.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority says while inspecting the park on Monday, crews noticed several light poles and fixtures were damaged.
Exposed wires now pose safety concerns, so power to the lighting system has been cut, making the park unusable after dark.
Officials can’t say for sure just how many light fixtures have been vandalized, because some homeless campers are obstructing the light posts. HCDA says it needs to do a complete sweep of the park to know just how bad the situation is.
“Is there a reason why someone would want to tamper with the electrical wires?” we asked Aedward Los Banos, HCDA’s executive director.
“Probably to gain access to power,” he said. “Whether it’s to power a cell phone… just access to power.”
Los Banos says his staff has seen power strips and extension cords hardwired to the light poles, and suspects some of the homeless are tampering with the light fixtures.
“There is a concentration of tampered light poles where there are tents in our park,” he said.
Currently the lighting system is shut off so that the exposed wires don’t pose a threat to park users.
Officials would eventually need to power the lights back on to check which ones need repairs, but to do that, officials say they need to do a sweep of the park.
“First, we’ve got to assess the damage, assess the lighting situation, to make sure all of our lights work and then get a contractor in to repair and then seal them off permanently,” Los Banos said.
One possible, more permanent solution officials are thinking of is to weld the access point shut. “We haven’t started that process, but generally when we do the evaluation, we would have a cost estimate at that time,” he said.
As for how long the repairs will take, Los Banos says they need to assess the damage first, but estimates at least a month.
HCDA plans to resume a 10 p.m. closure once the exposed wires are fixed.