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Hilo’s Carvalho Park undergoing renovations


The county Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to update the public about safety and accessibility improvements being undertaken at Hilo’s Gilbert Carvalho Park.

County crews are working to clear overgrowth at the edge of the facility to create additional off-street parking.

Limited on-site parking has prompted an increasing number of park users to leave their vehicles along the shoulder of Waianuenue Avenue or in the nearby grassy median, Deputy Parks Director Clayton Honma said.

Spectators often park vehicles along the park’s perimeter barricades to view softball or youth baseball games, unaware they are within the public right-of-way.

These practices impede sight distances and create distractions for motorists continuing up Waianuenue Avenue as they attempt to merge into the mauka-bound lane from the nearby signalized intersection. This route serves as the main access for emergency vehicles transporting patients to Hilo Medical Center.

“Children have been seen playing up to the road’s edge at times, which is of serious concern to us,” Honma said.

Under a cooperative effort spearheaded by the Department of Parks and Recreation, resources from the Department of Environmental Management, Department of Public Works and the Planning Department have been assembled to develop a large parking area to support the park’s many uses.

“We’re delighted to improve recreation and public safety by turning an unused jungle into productive park space,” Honma said.

To further enhance safety for park users, a sizeable banyan tree near Waiānuenue Avenue is being removed. This pre-emptive action is necessary to avoid the threat of collapse due to termite infestation discovered in the tree, combined with significant amounts of overhanging deadwood, a shallow root system and its location adjacent to a fresh water spring.

The tree is not among the county’s exceptional trees, which is a designation the County Council applies to special trees deemed worthy of preservation.

“While we regret the loss of this single banyan, the county would be unable to ensure the safety of park users who would gravitate toward the shade it provides,” Honma said. “It was solely a safety decision to remove it.”

An additional mature banyan, located along the park’s entrance road, is being preserved, he said.

Volunteer labor provided under contract with Hawaii Corrections Industries was used for the initial clearing work to assess the area’s potential for development. Those inmates have since been replaced with trained county crews and heavy equipment to complete the more technical site development and tree-removal work.

The banyan tree’s removal is expected to be finished within three weeks, during which time the new parking area should be completed. The existing facility also is being upgraded to meet federally mandated accessibility improvements.

Reopening is expected in April.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank the public for its understanding and patience during the improvements phase. A special mahalo also goes out to Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda for his vision and support in initiating this worthwhile community benefit.

Gilbert Carvalho Park features a lighted baseball field, gymnasium, pavilions and keiki playground. It attracts numerous users, including youth, adult and kupuna sports teams, serves as the site for softball tournaments and parties, and is home to the popular Portugese Day in the Park Festival held yearly.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105.

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