HANAMA‘ULU — The county’s Department of Parks &Recreation and Cushnie Construction hosted a small group of dignitaries, community supporters and friends to the new pavilion Wednesday, after Sean Chung officiated at the blessing of the Laukona Park Improvements Project in Hanama‘ulu.
“Mahalo to the Department of Park &Recreation, all of the stakeholders involved, and the Kaua‘i Junior Youth Squad and Lee Steinmetz for having the foresight and initiative to make this project come to reality,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Back in 2019, this youth group brought their ideas to our administration and conducted door-to-door outreach in the Hanama‘ulu community so others could share their ideas on improving the park.”
Chung, in officiating the blessing, spoke of the importance of open spaces like Laukona Park that the mayor described as “a small park off the beaten path.”
The most obvious improvements that were triggered by the youth squad include Americans with Disabilities Act walkways, ADA parking stalls, a playground, a pavilion with benches, table and a grill, a bike rack, repair, resurfacing and repainting of the basketball court, and seating along the basketball court and spread throughout the park.
“The park improvements represent the vision of these youth, the input of the neighborhood residents and collaboration with our administration,” Kawakami said. “This is an achievement of neighbors and families, nonprofits and community coalitions, faith-based groups and government all working together.”
Construction of the $750,000 project administered through a Community Development Block Grant through the County Housing Agency started in January by Cushnie Construction, and was completed in August with the blessing finalizing work Wednesday.
Liz Hahn of the Baha‘is of Kaua‘i said the Kaua‘i Junior Youth Squad is part of a worldwide social and economic-development program of the Baha‘i Faith called the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program that aims to guide middle-school-aged youth to develop moral compasses, enhance their powers of expression and contribute to the betterment of their families, their neighborhoods and communities.
“The youth, when they started this project, were in middle schoool,” Hahn said. “They were the same age as those youngsters who came back with the Little League World Series title last week. Now, they’re in high school, and some of them moved away. Their primary interest was not to improve the park for themselves, but instead for their ‘ohana, especially for the keiki and kupuna.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or email@example.com.
Source: The Garden Island