City to investigate field lighting issues, more parks may have the same problem

The city is hiring someone to figure out what caused the lights to go out at a baseball field in Waipio.

We first told you that an adult baseball league had to cancel its games at Central Oahu Regional Park after poor lighting made it unsafe to play.

Since then, the city closed the baseball field to night games.

But we’re also finding out more parks have similar lighting issues.

Michele Nekota, Department of Parks and Recreation director, tells us they are speeding up the process to find out what’s wrong because there might be more than light bulbs to replace.

“Whether we need to replace a ballast or the lighting fixtures or the light bulbs, there’s so many things that we might have to fix,” said Nekota.

When we first approached the city about the issue, a spokesman told us it’s not a simple fix. We were told the lights at Central Oahu are no longer manufactured so a one-for-one replacement may not be possible.

So why is the city using a contractor to assess the broken lights?

“Normally what we would do is use the Department of Facility Maintenance, but they have a lot of ongoing projects right now and so we wanted to make sure that we expedited this,” Nekota said.

City Councilman Trevor Ozawa says other parks also have poor lighting issues.

“We’ve been pushing the administration to go ahead and get the lights back and running at Kapaolono Park at least for the last three years since I’ve been in office,” he said.

At Kapaolono Community Park in Kaimuki, the lights at the tennis court, basketball court, and baseball field do not work.

Ozawa says lights have been broken for about seven years, so we asked city officials why repairs are taking so long.

“The background is we had to do some other work beforehand,” said Nekota, “so it wasn’t just a light fixture. It was getting it prepared to replace the light fixture.”

The city says it’s working with HECO on upgrading the electrical infrastructure at the park first.

“People have become used to not having lights there. They have gotten used to that, but I think it’s a good thing to tell the community that we’re almost there,” said Ozawa.

The outdoor lights at Central Oahu should last about 15 to 20 years. Central Oahu has been open to the public since 2001.

Other parks like Hans L’Orange and the Waipio Soccer Complex use the same lights.

The city is looking for better light fixtures that won’t require major modifications.

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