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Waiakea-Uka Park receives funding for improvements

State Rep. Richard Onishi and Hawaii County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy last week announced the release of state funds for improvements to Waiakea-Uka Park.

Onishi said he received confirmation from Gov. David Ige that $6.4 million is available for upgrades and expansion of the Hilo park.

The project is a partnership between the state and the county, which are splitting the cost at a 3-1 ratio, according to earlier reporting. The county will pay $2.1 million.

“This funding brings the Waiakea-Uka community much-needed improvements at the park,” Onishi said in statement. “Now we can go from plans on paper to a new community center as well as a larger and better parking area that will ensure the safety for all those who utilize the facility.”

The park has two ball fields, a playground and the 79-year-old Stanley Costales Waiakea-Uka Gym, which have all served as a social and recreation hub for the community for years.

The new Capital Improvement Program funds will be used to build a new community center, two new parking lots and for relocation of the lower baseball field.

The parking lots will be constructed within the park to allow for more parking spaces for people using the baseball fields, gym and future community center.

The extra parking also will help alleviate street parking on Ainaloa Drive, making the road safer for pedestrians and drivers.

The final design of the improvements has not been finalized, but there are no plans to change existing structures.

“I’m excited to see this project go from community concerns to community assets,” Lee Loy said. “Working with Richard and his know-how of matching state funds with county funds to deliver results was remarkable. He looks out for our community that way.”

An environmental assessment must be completed before work can begin, which as a CIP project must be within three years.

“I’m looking forward to seeing much more parking to make Ainaloa Drive safer, which is why these plans began,” Lee Loy said. “I also think the changes will meet the growing needs of Waiakea-Uka.”

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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