Bayfront parking lot possible skate park site

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With the addition of a few ramps and rails, a Bayfront parking lot could soon double as Hilo’s only skate park.

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With the addition of a few ramps and rails, a Bayfront parking lot could soon double as Hilo’s only skate park.

The Hilo Skateplaza Coalition, a group formed more than six years ago with the goal of building a $3.5 million skating complex, is looking at the more bite-sized proposal that its chairman says will at least be a step in the right direction.

“Right now we’re just trying to get a temporary skate park built,” said Dan Madsen, who noted Hilo is “long overdue” for a skate park of any size.

“Maybe it will light a fire and get more people involved and build something better.”

The plan is to build an approximately 9,000-square-foot wooden skate park in the center of a public parking lot across from Bayfront Motors on Kamehameha Avenue.

The larger goal remains to build a covered 25,000-square-foot skating complex near the Walter Victor baseball fields. The project remains in the county’s capital budget, but funding has not been allocated.

Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi said the county is looking for the group to contribute about $100,000 before starting construction on the larger project. Madsen said the group has about $10,000.

Onishi, who proposed the parking lot for the temporary skate park, said it acts as overflow parking for the Hele-On bus stop near the Mooheau Park bandstand.

“That was really the only open spot I could find,” he said, adding that it is underused.

Tuesday might have been the exception as the parking lot was about three-quarters full, while the parking lot next to the bus stop down the street was nearly empty.

Onishi is contributing $50,000 from his council contingency fund account to help cover material costs.

“I want to make sure this is finished before I get termed out,” said Onishi, who is completing his last term this year. “I want to make sure this project gets completed.”

The coalition will be required to apply tar coating as a surface for the skate park, which will add to the costs. He estimated the total budget to be between $70,000 and $80,000.

Madsen said the group is still waiting on quotes from contractors. The total price tag remains undetermined.

He said the $10,000 the coalition has available could be used for the temporary skate park, though additional fundraising could still be required. But if it all comes together, Madsen hopes to have it complete in September.

“It would be great to have a place to gather,” he said.

Meanwhile, a reggae benefit concert will be held for the coalition from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Hilo Town Tavern.

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Jessica Tolar, a volunteer with the group, said tickets are $15 at the door for the all-ages concert. The event is free for children 12 and under. For more information, visit www.hiloskateplaza.com.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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