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Waiakea Uka community center plans move forward

Construction of an new community center at Waiakea Uka Park could begin as early as next year.

The community center will be one of several improvements made to the Hilo park, which was expanded in 2018.

State Rep. Richard Onishi, D-Hilo, who helped secure funding for the project, said one of the main goals is to fix the park’s poor parking scheme.

“We want to try to get the parking off of Ainaola Road, where it all is right now,” Onishi said, explaining that the project will be developed on an adjacent 1-acre lot and entails a new parking lot for the existing gymnasium, a new community center with “about a 100-person capacity,” and a realignment of the park’s baseball fields.

“The gym we have already doesn’t have a good community area,” said Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, who worked with Onishi in planning the project. “So we want to make a community space … whether that means we get a full kitchen or something depends on what the plans look like.”

Lee Loy said the design plans for the project have been partially completed.

The project is a partnership between the state and the county, which are splitting the cost at a 3-1 ratio, Onishi said. The state will contribute $6.4 million, while the county will pay $2.1 million.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the County Council Finance Committee, council members will discuss a pair of bills to add the state and county funds to the county budget. Onishi said the state money is readily available, but is waiting on the county to finalize its project plans and submit them to the state.

When those plans are approved, Onishi said he believes groundbreaking on the project can begin as early as summer 2021, although he added that that depends on the county submitting its plans to the state by the end of 2020.

“We’re hoping that, if we’re lucky, the whole thing might be complete by the end of 2022,” Onishi said.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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