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Kailua Park plan unveiled; EA up next

Mayor Billy Kenoi praised the vision for Kailua Park. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)Mayor Billy Kenoi praised the vision for Kailua Park. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

The final draft of the master plan for Kailua Park was revealed Tuesday evening.

Known as Old Airport Park/Makaeo, the 117-acre project area includes the existing county-managed Kailua Park, and the former Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, which was turned over to the county last year.

The purpose of the plan –  developed by Kimura International, Inc. – is to detail a comprehensive vision for use and future development of the park complex over the next couple of decades.  

Herb Lee Jr., president of Lee Communications Inc. and project consultant, said the planning process, which began early this year, sought to include as many aspects of the Kona Community Development Plan and as many residents’ ideas as possible.

“There was a lot of compromise,” he said. “We can’t please everybody and everybody’s interests. We want you to be comfortable that this is a plan we can all live with.”

In addition, he said it was important to be respectful of the archeological and historical elements while seeking to do things in a green and sustainable way.

The next step is preparing an environmental assessment, which be complete as early as year’s end.

Cost of the project could exceed $50 million, although a final estimate and funding are yet to be addressed.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he and his staff are committed to the project and its vision of the future.

He also thanked the crowd, which included dozens of residents who participated in a planning workshop three months ago.

“This is an opportunity to create more safe havens for our children,” Kenoi said. “Now comes time to make sure we follow through on your plans.”

Kailua Park is the county Department of Parks and Recreation’s largest and most heavily utilized park in West Hawaii. 

Existing facilities include a gymnasium, 50-meter swimming pool, five multi-purpose ballfields, four lighted tennis courts, horseshoe pits and four outdoor basketball courts.  

The facilities are heavily used year-round by youth, adult and senior sports leagues and teams. Demand for facilities far exceeds capacity, as youth, adult and senior sports leagues and teams fill the schedule year-round.

The former state property includes approximately 70 acres and is mostly undeveloped, with the old asphalt runway running the length of the site. 

Existing recreational facilities include an in-line hockey rink, events pavilion, two partially constructed canoe hale (one of which is being used temporarily as a skatepark), and shoreline picnic pavilions. The old airport terminal building currently serves as both a county maintenance facility and as a storage area for canoes.

When the old Kona Airport closed in 1970, the state and county intended to convert the area into a multi-use recreational area. In subsequent years, there were at least three major attempts to plan the development of the area, but actual improvements to the area were minimal.

The Old Kona Airport area was the site of ancient and modern day Hawaiian settlements, and is known to be rich in cultural and historic resources. Human burials have been found in sandy areas of the shore, and reinterred on the site. 

Preservation and protection of these resources and cultural sensitivity will be important components in developing future plans for the area.

What’s in the plan

* Cultural park/interpretive center to protect Pawai Bay and 

* Tennis complex with six new courts, including a stadium court

* Dog park – although this is a tentative item, as the county council still must approve a law change to allow an off-leash facility

* Skateboard park

* Recreational complex with a tot lot, youth center, senior center and 25-yard pool

* 1,350 parking spaces (currently there are about 880); some slots would be reverse angle 

* Better traffic circulation, including multiple access routes

* New beach showers, changing rooms near the ball fields on the southern end

* Four canoe halau, with a direct pathway to shoreline launch site

* Bio-basins to serve as filters for storm water and run-off

* Pedestrian park looping around the entire complex

* Great lawn with a gazebo – good for lawn bowling, hula shows, weddings

The final draft will be posted to the park Web site soon. It probably won’t be as blurry as these photos …

— Find out more:


Kailua Park Plan - north end (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Kailua Park Plan - north end (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)


Kailua Park Plan - south end (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Kailua Park Plan - south end (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

One Response to “Kailua Park plan unveiled; EA up next”

  1. Janie Cook says:

    How do I become involved with the park? I would love to have my own little piece of Paradise garden to tend to and display. Plese let me know! Janie 345-3541


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