Cleaning Oahu’s filthy parks is proving too big a job for the city to handle alone. Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine introduced a bill to get more volunteers to help.
The obvious question is why can’t the City maintain the parks? The response from Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration is that there are a lot of parks and little funding. The mayor’s administration admits park maintenance is an area it needs to improve, but it also has concerns with letting volunteers handle the big jobs.
There are 284 City parks on Oahu covering more than 5,100 acres. Some facilities are falling apart. There aren’t even toilet paper dispensers in some.
“Even if you add up all of our parks we’re never going to get to everything in my lifetime,” said Kymberly Marcos Pine, Honolulu City Councilmember. “We would need to spend millions and millions of dollars, I would believe hundreds of millions of dollars just to sort of catch up.”
Councilmember Kymberly Pine wants more money and workers dedicated to park maintenance. Until that happens she’s authored a bill that would allow the community to volunteer to repair and improve parks.
“I hope that this becomes a core mission again of the City from this point on and that’s why we want to put it in the charter so we never forget the maintenance of our parks again,” said Pine.
The City says it is willing to work with Pine, but also points out that it already has a similar adopt a park program. There are also concerns with liability. Having volunteers repair roofs or fix plumbing could lead to other problems. It’s a sentiment echoed by testifiers at the City Council.
“My concern is that the City seeing that these certain parks are being care of that they might not put adequate funding toward them and do what they are supposed to do,” said Natalie Iwasa, community advocate.
“I think it would give the City & County more of an incentive to actually help with whatever we are trying to do,” said Cedric Gates, Active Hawaii Organization.
Gates says he’s got 100 volunteers ready to work. They just wish they didn’t have to wait for bureaucratic approval.
“This gives us the opportunity to actually fast track those improvements,” said Gates.
The plan did pass the first of three votes today but the council has a lot of specifics to sort out before it makes its way to the Mayor’s desk.