After more than two years of the (de)Occupy Honolulu movement, Thomas Square may not have been the park of choice for many residents in the recent past. But according to a new list that ranks the condition of city parks, Thomas Square is the city's crown jewel.
Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.
"Thomas Square is No. 1 just because it is our oldest park, it's got a lot of history to it and we do have the funds to do a master plan, which we're in the progress of doing," said Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Nekota.
The condition survey looked at 271 of the city's 284 parks and used a point system to rate nine categories of amenities, including comfort stations, swimming pools, gyms and sports fields.
Thomas Square was followed on the top ranked list by Ala Moana Regional Park, Kuhio Beach Park, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and Kapiolani Regional Park.
Parks rated at the bottom of the list included those in desperate need of facility refurbishment. Aiea District Park was rated the worst, followed by Kalakaua District Park, Kaimuki Community Park, Halawa District Park and Palolo Valley District Park.
"I'm concerned about the fact that there are still so many other parks in our island that need to be repaired," said Councilman Ron Menor, vice-chair of the Parks and Customer Services Committee. "I think more revenues are needed for our parks."
In February's State of the City address Mayor Kirk Caldwell proposed $39 million in capital improvement funds to address much-needed fixes at city parks, which he called "our communities' front yards."
On Tuesday the City Council's Budget Committee approved Caldwell's entire CIP request. Nekota said the list rating each individual park will be used to determine how much money each facility receives, but the rankings could change.
"We don't know if a comfort station's going to break down tomorrow, so it's really an ongoing list," she said.
Despite the infusion of funds to the Parks Department, Menor said the city needs all the help it can get. However it often takes months to approve community groups willing to pitch in.
"I really think the city needs to partner with community groups that are out there," said the councilman. "Little leagues (and) community associations that want to do the improvement and get them involved in working with the city."
Although Nekota has only been on the job for a few weeks, she plans on reaching out to groups that would like to improve city parks through her department's Adopt A Park program.
"We'll get the paper work done as soon as possible and we'll walk it through if we have to because we appreciate those groups that are volunteering to help us with the parks," she said.
The $39 million approved by the Budget Committee for park improvements must still be voted on by the full council. That's expected to happen during the hearing scheduled for June 4.