It’s been nearly a year since the lights at Stevenson Recreation Center were ripped out.
We first told you about the problem Wednesday. Lights surrounding the basketball court and the tennis courts were removed for safety reasons, leaving 200 kids without a free program that helped keep them off the streets.
On Thursday, state told us there’s no specific dates planned to replace them.
The Punchbowl Athletic Club is part of the Honolulu Police Department’s Police Athletics League. Now that the lights are out, the free, after-school activity can’t go on.
David Keaunui-Rattley’s four children are all part of the club.
“It’s disappointing for them. Now it’s like they usually have practice this week. They do homework and okay, it’s almost time to go. Now it’s like, oh, what are we going to do now? There’s no practice,” he said.
Keaunui-Rattley says he also volunteers his time as a basketball coach.
“To get the lights back up would mean the world to the kids. It would mean a lot to us. I love to watch the boys play. As long as they’re having fun, I’m okay. It’s a joy to see them playing,” he said.
So when will the lights be put back in? The Department of Education said in an email:
“At this point, there are no specifics yet in terms of project scope, costs or timetables to share. DOE will be working with the City & County’s Dept. of Parks & Recreation to establish the project scope, which will determine the number and type of lights needed and any replacements of underground conduits and/or electrical cabling required. The project is in a very preliminary stage and costs and timetables won’t be determined until the full design is set.”
We spoke with Sen. Brian Taniguchi, who represents the district. He says state projects involving lights are very expensive.
We learned the Department of Education has an operating budget of just under $2 billion each year, so it has to juggle where and how money is spent.
“The issue is, normally school ends at 2:15 or 2:30 p.m. You don’t need lights during the day. These are programs that are run after school, and are not necessarily school-related programs. That’s really the issue,” he explained. “The school is saying we got all these other things to do (for) the state. It’s going to be a low priority. They don’t use the park at night.”
KHON2 asked Taniguchi what his message is to parents who want to know when the lights are going to be fixed.
“Bring it before us and try to seek funding. Now that we know about it, we’ll try to check into it and see what we can do,” he said.