“This has to stop.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he’s outraged after yet another public facility is destroyed in an act of vandalism.
The victim this time: the largest comfort station at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park, heavily used by canoe paddlers, tennis and baseball players.
Officials say the incident occurred sometime around midnight. The culprits smashed three toilets and a sink, then set the entire structure on fire with damage extending to the roof. An active investigation is underway.
“I’m beyond upset. I think the community should be outraged too,” Caldwell said. “It’s hard enough to maintain the parks we have. We have… over 200 restrooms. Now we have to start from scratch again.”
Officials say repairing and restoring the facility could end up costing taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars.
“We have to go through design and planning, get permits. It’s going to be a year or two before this restroom is restored,” Caldwell said.
“Right now, we have to assess the damages and determine what direction we’re going with,” said Michele Nekota, director of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
In 2014, vandals destroyed the comfort station at Kaiaka Bay Beach Park on Oahu’s North Shore. The city brought in portable toilets while it works to repair the facility, several of which were also torched and destroyed.
In January, a recently refurbished comfort station at Ala Moana Beach Park was vandalized when a toilet was lifted off its foundation and smashed into pieces.
In the end, officials say the public suffers most.
“We have to focus on improving and repairing that — urinals or the broken toilets,” Nekota said. “(That money) could be renovating our comfort stations, making it look good, or providing more sprinkler systems for our grass area and making it greener, those types of things, and playground equipment, of course, because the kids love that.”
People are asked to call police if they see any suspicious activity.
While it would also be an added expense to taxpayers, the city is considering security cameras, like the ones installed at Hans L’Orange Park in Waipahu.
“We may have to do this in a lot of our major parks. It’s the only way to protect our restrooms,” Caldwell said. “This person has to be taught a lesson. This is a crime, a big crime. It’s going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and this person should be punished for the crime, and an example should be set so other people don’t do this.”