For the past two months, a popular park at the water’s edge has been off-limits.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority closed Kakaako Waterfront Park to repair hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage caused by vandals.
The park has been empty with “no trespassing” signs plastered everywhere.
Now, repairs have been made and at 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8, the signs will come down and the park will reopen.
But this time, the state won’t be as lenient if someone is caught there after hours.
The state didn’t want to close the park in the first place, but said it was necessary.
“It was very disheartening at the time. You’d go and see wires pulled out, broken sprinklers,” said Garett Kamemoto, HCDA interim executive director.
Illegal campers broke light poles and ran wires to their tents for electricity. The state said campers also broke sprinklers and pipes in the bathrooms.
“The park looks a lot better shape than it was before. We fixed all the light fixtures,” Kamemoto.
Initially, damage was estimated at half-a-million dollars, but the state managed to bring repair costs down to about $200,000.
But officials are spending more in one area. The state hired a private security company to enforce park rules.
Kamemoto says last year, HCDA didn’t have the resources to enforce the park closure rules.
But now, “even though we’re spending extra money for security, we’re hoping because it’s preventive, we don’t have the big expense we were having before where we had periodic enforcement in the park,” Kamemoto said.
Security is expected to enforce the 10 p.m. park closure, with more officers checking to ensure no one is tapping into the park’s water or electricity.
Be on the lookout for new, green signs that will also be enforced: no camping, no tents.
“We’re going to be a lot stricter, and we will have law enforcement backup to help us should we reach that point,” Kamemoto said. “What we really want is compliance. As long as people obey the park rules, we encourage them to come in.”
It won’t just be security officers enforcing park rules. The state says sheriffs will also have a heavier presence in the park.
Concerts will be allowed again.