Department of Parks requests to hire temporary grounds keepers to help maintain city parks

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Knee-high grass, weeds growing out of control and over-flowing garbage cans. That’s what the Department of Parks and Recreation is trying to prevent.

Director Michele Nekota recently sent a request to city council that said they were backlogged and requested more ground keepers to help solve the problem.

City parks are a place for the community to gather. For keiki to play. No one wants their neighborhood park to look like an overgrown mess. Unfortunately, that s the state of one tiny Kalihi neighborhood park.

“This its Auld Lane Mini Park. This side and then this side, but nobodies up-kept it,” explained Loviann Domingo as she pointed to an overgrown cluster of bushes, trees and grass with the park sign in front of it.

Domingo said the city and county hasn’t come to clean Auld Lane Mini Park in two years.

“They put up that blue sign before,” explained Domingo as she pointed to the sign draped and almost completely hidden by vegetation. “Since the city and county hasn’t been here its been covered with vines and garden and leaves and everything. You can’t even see the Auld Lane sign.”

The reason she thinks the park hasn’t been cleaned?

“A major backlog,” Domingo said.

Backlog is exactly what the Department of Parks and Recreation said is happening to their department in a recent request made to the city.

They claim they are backlogged and don’t have enough workers to maintain the 299 park facilities covering more than 5,200 acres including botanical gardens, parks and nature preserves they oversee.

To solve the problem, they are asking for 20 full-time temporary grounds keepers to be employed from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. It would cost the city $808,160 for the 20 groundskeepers.

The city request stated that the Department of Parks and Recreation offers current workers overtime on a regular basis but that it is “taxing on the staff.”

The request also stated that “additional ground keeping personnel are needed to help provide basic county services such as grass cutting, mowing, trash removal, and other related tasks island-wide.”

Gilbert Madriaga said he sometimes brings his granddaughter to a park in Kalihi after he picks her up from school. He said more could be done.

“I don’t know how often they (clean the park),” Madriaga said. “But I think they can do a better job. At least more often…I think trash pick up and maybe sweeping up where the kids play in case there’s glass or stuff like that. That would be a good idea.”

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