North Kohala’s Kēōkea Beach Park Reopened
A blessing and dedication ceremony for a thoroughly renovated and expanded Kēōkea Beach Park was held Saturday morning, May 12, at the North Kohala facility.
Kohala residents, the Friends of Kēōkea Beach Park, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and other Hawai‘i County officials joined in the festivities held against the backdrop of the sunny skies, gentle breezes and the blue Pacific Ocean.
“We open this to all the families, children and kūpuna of Kohala,” Mayor Kenoi said before joining Sarah Pule-Fujii, president of the Friends of Kēōkea Beach Park, in untying a maile lei and ushering more than 200 people into Kēōkea Beach Park amid shouts of joy and jubilation.
The park’s main pavilion had been closed since it was badly damaged by the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that struck near Kiholo Bay and also a 6.0 Hāwī temblor on Oct. 15, 2006. The park, which spans more than 7 acres, has since undergone extensive repairs totaling $1.4 million.
A renovated kitchen, a larger main pavilion, new restrooms, and paved accessible walkways now greet visitors to Kēōkea Beach Park.
Anbe, Aruga and Ishizu Architects Inc. prepared the plans for the project, while Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. was the general contractor. The Friends of Kēōkea Beach Park’s numerous community volunteers assisted Parks and Recreation staff with painting, clearing debris, trimming trees and other maintenance duties.
Roughly 75 volunteers showed up for a recent work day, during which they performed maintenance, landscaping and other chores, said Pule-Fujii, the president of the Friends of Kēōkea Beach Park.
“We painted all of these brand new tables,” she said, adding volunteers also took special care in removing any paint droppings and other ‘ōpala.
“Our kids grew up here,” Pule-Fujii said. “We’re always here. We have so much love for the park. That’s why we put so much into it. We’re really, really thankful.”
Also appreciative for the improvements were the more than 500 Kohala residents who signed their names to thank Mayor Kenoi for his dedication to the Kohala community. Their names were written on a huge paper “lei of thank you” presented to the mayor, who described the gift as the most beautiful lei he’s ever seen.
“It’s such a privilege to come to Kohala,” Mayor Kenoi said. “Every time we come, it’s to celebrate the hard work of the community.”
He said the renovated Kēōkea Beach Park is a pu‘uhonua – a safe haven for families, keiki and kūpuna.
“Here at Kēōkea, we’re here, the County of Hawai‘i, just to honor all the hard work of all of the hands, of all the many families that make Kohala such a special place,” Mayor Kenoi added.
The Kupuka‘as, John Keawe, and DJ Darren Bermudez serenaded the attendees with free live music.
Kēōkea Beach Park’s completion represents the Department of Parks and Recreation’s final Kiholo Bay earthquake-related project, joining Ikuo Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park, Pa‘auilo Gym Annex and others that underwent safety repairs before being reopened for public use.