Three city and county of Honolulu parks will close beginning Wednesday, September 5.
Old Stadium Park, Moilili Community Park and Crane Community Park will shut down for two months.
The Department of Parks and Recreation says the closure is for a variety of projects: tree trimming, irrigation system repairs, field maintenance such as aeration, fertilizing, and ball field improvements, selective herbicide applications, power washing concrete pads and walkways, repairs to tables, benches and fencing, interior and exterior painting, and comfort station makeovers, including repairs to toilets, urinals, sinks, security features, and other structural items.
Plans to reopen the parks are set for November 5.
The McCully/Moilili Neighorhood Board believes the park closures are much-needed, adding there’s more to the makeovers.
“Within recent memory, I can remember kids playing soccer out in this open area right here,” said board chair Tim Streitz.
He says he hasn’t seen kids play at Old Stadium Park in years.
“There’s tent after tent, trash all over the place. We’ve been hearing neighbors complaining about syringes on the ground,” said Streitz.
Much of the three parks are occupied by tents. Greg Sievers has lived at Old Stadium Park for 4 years. He says service outreach providers stopped by the park and informed him of the park closures. On Tuesday afternoon, he was starting to pack his belongings.
“We have to be out of here by midnight, but we’ll be out of here by 10, when the park closes,” said Sievers.
Sievers grew up in Michigan, but has called the streets of Honolulu home for many years.
“Either along the Ala Wai, or there’s a couple of little parks I may try,” said Sievers, when asked where he plans to go next. “Or out by the Manoa River.”
He says he understand’s the neighborhood’s concern. Though he is content with living on the streets, he’d eventually like to live in an apartment… or better yet, a sailboat.
“I still have my savings tucked away,” said Sievers.
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi acknowledges the park clean-up is a complicated issue.
“We have to take them back and use them as parks And then what? You know, are people going to come back? We have to make sure we have services and housing. But you know, all of that takes money, too,” said Kobayashi.