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Parks and Recreation

About the Parks and Recreation working group
It would be particularly helpful to decision-makers to receive input from the community re:
  • Should the County go into subdivisions to develop small parks or would one large, regional park be preferred?
Preliminary Themes, Goals, and Objectives from the Small Group Meetings

These themes (recurring ideas) were derived from 130 small group meetings conducted across the Puna district. The code(s) in parentheses can be found in full database of ideas at

Preliminary Themes (REC)
  1. More activities for youth
  2. Youth Centers (fitness, theater, etc.)
  3. Senior Center
  4. Recreation Center for All Ages
  5. Motor Cross/ATV Park
  6. New Gym in Pahoa
  7. More Camping/Picnic Sites
  8. Dog Park
  9. Skateboard Park
  10. Large Park with Sports Facilities
  11. Upgrade Pohoiki (Isaac Hale) – Beach Parks
  12. Swimming Pool
Preliminary Goal: To develop healthy, clean and natural coastal/mountain parks and accessible recreation centers with sports facilities to promote community activities for all ages.

Preliminary Objectives

These objectives have been derived from themes generated from 3,394 ideas provided by broad citizen input. The numbers in parentheses indicates which theme or themes were used to develop the objectives.

A. Provide for a variety of recreational and sporting facilities that are accessible to youth, adults, seniors and pets. (1, 4, 8, 10)

B. Identify potential sites for ATV/ Motor Cross Park. (5)

C. Investigate the viability /feasibility of a new gym & community centers in Pahoa that meet the needs of all residents. (1,2,3,4,6)

D. Encourage on-going development of a Skateboard Park. (9)

E. Ensure the development of adequate camping and picnic sites. (7)

F. Improve Pohoiki – Issac Hale Park to meet the needs of all residents. (11)

G. Assess the feasibility of maintaining existing pools and/or creating new pools. (12)

Excerpts from Previous Plans and Current Projects

Considerable time, thought and community-wide effort has been applied to the issue of parks and recreation in Puna over the past decade or more, resulting in a number of plans that have made specific recommendations. Pertinent excerpts from these plans are provided below.

The County of Hawai'i General Plan, adopted by ordinance in 2005, sets the land use and community development policy for the County of Hawai'i, and is intended to serve as a guide for state and federal government and private sector, as well. Here is what the County General Plan says about parks and recreation in Puna:

"Recreational facilities are spread throughout the district and recreational programs are centered around team sports for young people. Cool and rainy weather requires covered or indoor recreational areas.
Tennis courts and ball fields are located at Herbert Shipman Park in Keaau. The Herbert Shipman Park is the district park.
The neighborhood center in Pahoa is used for community meetings and events; educational, cultural, and senior programs; health and welfare programs; and indoor recreational activities. A 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool was completed in 1997. There is also a lighted ball field in Pahoa.
School playfields are used in Keaau, Mountain View, and Pahoa however, drainage is often a problem. The Department of Education maintains gymnasiums at Pahoa and Keaau, covered and outdoor basketball courts at Mountain View, and tennis courts and ball fields at Pahoa. The County maintains a gymnasium at Mountain View, outdoor basketball courts at Kurtistown and Hawaiian Beaches, and tennis courts at Kurtistown and Keaau. A multi-purpose sports field is proposed at the Hawaiian Beaches Park.
School activities take precedence over public use at joint-use facilities. There are lighted ball fields in Pahoa and Keaau.
Many of the parks in Puna are used by residents of Hilo because of Puna’s close proximity.
The Isaac Hale Beach Park (1.7 acres) offers camping, fishing, surfing, and swimming. A boat launch ramp is provided at Pohoiki Bay located adjacent to the Isaac Hale Beach Park. Presently the park and facilities are inadequate. Cars, boats, and boat trailers often occupy space within the park that could be used for recreation. Expansion of the park has been initiated by the County with the purchase of 22 acres located adjacent and mauka of the existing park to be developed with additional parking, playgrounds, boat parking, picnic and restroom facilities.
Kaimu Beach Park’s famous black sand beach and adjacent coconut grove were covered by lava flows in 1990. The Harry K. Brown Park was inundated by lava in the same eruption. The County purchased 6 acres of land in 1993 located 2,000 northeast of the Isaac Hale Beach Park as an attempt to replace the park land destroyed by lava. This new Ahalanui Park features a naturally occurring warm spring (Mauna Kea Pond) and a grassed area with scattered coconut trees. Proposed improvements include renovation of existing structures, construction of restrooms, an access roadway, parking lot, and infrastructure improvements.
MacKenzie State Recreation Area (13.1 acres) located between Pohoiki and Opihikao at the edge of the Malama-Ki Forest Reserve. Fishing, picnicking and camping are offered. Within the park is a well-preserved portion of the ancient Hawaiian King’s Trail.
The State’s undeveloped Nanawale State Park (78.3 acres) site is located adjacent to Honolulu Landing located along the Puna Coast Road between Kapoho and Hawaiian Shore subdivision.
Lava Tree State Monument (17.0 acres) is located near the junction of Kapoho and Pohoiki. This park features lava trees, large volcanic earth cracks, a footpath, picnic and restroom facilities, and parking. The park is landscaped and well maintained with adequate facilities and area for present use. Additional area adjacent to the present park has been reserved for future expansion.
Glenwood Park (1.1 acres) is located along the Volcano Highway and adequately served travelers as a picnic and rest stop.
Approximately 60,000 acres of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located within Puna. The facilities of the park are readily accessible for passive and active recreation.
Within Hawaiian Paradise Park, there are two existing, undeveloped county shoreline parks. In addition there is a 4-acre parcel set aside for the County at Kaloli Dr. and 26th Ave.; a 31-acre site adjacent to the Community Center; and a 20-acre community park and recreation facility at Kaloki Dr. and 15th Ave. The 31-acre site is planned as an educational ethno-botanical/anthropological site. The 20-acre community park could include a ball field, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas, tot lots, and related facilities.
The population of Puna consists of a high proportion of Hawaiians. The Hawaiian culture is ocean-oriented. There are few places in Puna where children can play safely in the ocean, and may not even be accessible. Some Hawaiian residents, many of which relocated to Puna from Oahu, are frustrated with the lack of shoreline access. Traditionally, the authority over the use of coastal areas by outsiders has been the kuleana of Puna families. The opening of coastal access for contemporary use may adversely affect the traditional uses, cultural sites, and coastal resources of the Puna families who have maintained their stewardship of coastal areas. Puna has several communities which operate County parks, at considerable public savings, in public/private partnerships.

Courses of Action:
As the population increases and the need arises, neighborhood parks in large subdivisions between Keaau and Pahoa should be provided and improved.
Encourage the State to establish a park reserve on State-owned land east of Kaimu.
Recommend the establishment of beach reserves at Kehena Beach and Opihikao (west of Opihikao junction).
Recommend that the State expand the MacKenzie State Recreation Area.
Develop the expanded Isaac hale Beach Park recreation area. Provide trail access to Keahialaka Spriing and Pond and Mahinaakaka Heiau.
Develop the Kapoho Tidepools as a marine park.
Establish a small scenic park overlooking Kapoho and provide mainimum facilities.
Develop recreational areas along the coast between Hilo and kapoho, including areas at Papai, Haena (Keaau), Kaloli Point, Keonepoki Nui, Honolulu Landing, and Nanawale.
Establish small scenic viewpoints along the Puna Road to overlook the rift zone and Kaueleau, Keekee, 1955 flows.
Explore means to maximize the use of the Pahoa neighborhood Facility site to serve the recreational needs of the lower Puna area."

In 1995, the County of Hawai'i secured the services of a consultant to complete the Puna Community Development Plan. While it was not adopted, this document sets forth some specific recommendations for parks and recreation:
  • Plan a future regional park at Upper Makuu.
  • Set aside areas for district parks adjacent to future high school sites.
  • Collaborate with subdivisions to set aside community park sites to serve areas with 5,000 to 10,000 permitted population as part of master planning, in conjunction with planning for elementary schools.
  • Collaborate with community groups to set aside and develop neighborhood parks, pocket parks and neighborhood trail and nature corridors.
  • Collaborate with community groups, and especially with traditional Puna Hawaiian communities, to produce a long term master plan for coastal park facilities and access to accommodate the build-out population in a manner which, as much as possible, protects sensitive areas from public access, and provides for traditional Puna Hawaiian community stewardship of limited access areas.
  • Complete development of the County’s Puala’a recreation area in lower Puna.
  • Collaborate with community groups and the State on the restoration or provision of basic recreational support amenities wherever there is heavy recreational use of the coastline. If the area is unsafe, provide facilities at the nearest practical safe shoreline access point.
  • In collaboration with the State’s Na Ala Hele program and community groups, develop inventory and master plan for a Puna trail and bikeway system (see list under names, sites, and corridors) (see also Transportation Section).
In addition to these County-sponsored plans, there are community-initiated plans for Hawaiian Acres, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Volcano that contain recommendations for parks and recreation:

Hawaiian Acres Master Plan (1999):
"Parks do not exist at this time. Hawaiian Acres does plan to create parks within when funds become available, subject to permitted land uses and liability issues. The Volcano trail is currently being restored."

Hawaiian Paradise Park Master Plan (Revised 2005):
"Parks and Recreation Areas (Total of about 60 acres): There are two existing undeveloped county shoreline parks. In addition, there is one four-acre parcel set aside for the county at Kaloli Drive and 26th Avenue. A thirty-one-acre site adjacent to the Community Center is planned to be a park with special consideration given to any existing archeological sites. A 20-acre community park and recreational facility on Kaloli Drive and 15th Avenue may include a ball field, swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic areas, tot lots and related facilities.
The shoreline extended park area stretching the full length of the subdivision’s shoreline has been deleted and will remain zoned agricultural. The reason for this change is the history of this area and the hard-fought court battle between current residents of that area and the county to allow building. Prior to its current Ag zoning, it was zoned conservation which did not allow for residences to be built. It is possible that through dedication of lands through gifts to Paradise Hui Hanalike that it may become a park but our plan should not be tied to that premise.
The current plan drawing does not include all bicycle trails and pedestrian walkways only because at this time there are no easement rights over individual properties to connect any of the village centers with roads running parallel to the avenues on the drawing. The concept of bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways remains integral to this plan so that residents may walk or bike to and from services within a few minutes. We have pictured major trails on Railroad Avenue and on the borders of the subdivision."

Volcano Vision 2020:
  • Provide for the recreational needs of people of all ages in the Volcano area.
  • Identify and support individuals, parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors to work with young people in the community.
  • Develop a multi-use Volcano-based transportation system that includes servicing the recreational needs of the community consistent with out Transportation Plan that calls for a reduction in automobile use and an increase in non-motorized means of transport.
  • Enhance recreational activities that integrate the Volcano community.
  • Monitor and address the recreational needs of all subdivisions in the Volcano community.
  • Develop readily available and accessible recreational activities for the Volcano community.
  • Encourage more discussion, further study, and consensus-building regarding the Cooper Center Master Plan.
  • Coordinate the efforts of various resident-groups in Volcano with existing public and private providers of recreational activities.
  • Work with the County Parks and Recreation Department to develop a consistent program or appropriate recreational activities, including those at Cooper Center, to complement existing classes, activities, ect.
  • Develop greater cooperation with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea Military Camp, Keakealani Outdoor Education Center, and Volcano Art Center to increase access to existing facilities and to maximize the use of them.
  • Develop a DOE-VCA agreement which accommodates regular community use of Keakealani field. Agreement and schedule should be publicized.
  • Support educational programs in Hawaii Volcanoes national Park, the Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve, and the Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve to increase public awareness and appreciation for native ecosystems and their appropriate management.
  • Work with County, State, and Federal government agencies and private landowners to establish, maintain, and manage a system of hiking and biking trails.
  • Support the maintenance and management of specific areas for recreational hunting purposes.
The following County parks and recreation projects are underway in Puna:
  • Pahoa gym and playfields, at a site on Highway 130 to be combined with a new fire/police station
  • Pahoa skateboard park and master plan, for a site next to the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility
  • Pohoiki (Isaac Hale Beach Park), for new picnic, shower and boat parking facilities
More information and location maps for the above projects are available in the Puna Capital Improvement Projects presentation - see Related Content below.

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« March 2018 »
Upcoming Events
North Kohala CDP Action Committee Meeting 03-19-2018 Mar 19, 2018 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM — Hisaoka Gym Conference Room (54-382 Kamehameha Park Road, Kapa'au, HI)
South Kohala CDP Action Committee Meeting Apr 02, 2018 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM — Hokuloa United Church of Christ
Hāmākua CDP Planning Commission Review Apr 12, 2018 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM
Puna CDP Action Committee Meeting 05-01-2018 May 01, 2018 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM — Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility (15-2910 Ku'uhome Street, Pāhoa, HI)
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