Mayor: It’s time to clean up Mo‘oheau Park and make it safe for families

HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Some homeless gather Wednesday around Mo'oheau Bandstand in downtown Hilo.

Hawaii County will close Mo‘oheau Park on Friday for clean up in response to what officials describe as unsanitary conditions.

Problems include homeless people camping in the downtown Hilo park, littering and abandoned property, as well as human and animal feces.


“When I went down to assess the situation, it was clear that we have families and visitors in an unclean environment, and we have to take action ASAP,” said Maurice Messina, deputy director of parks and recreation. “There is urine, there is feces, there are other homeless setting up permanent residence in the banyan trees.”

He said the issues have been getting worse and have overwhelmed parks maintenance staff.

It’s not known when the park will reopen, but Messina doesn’t anticipate the closure lasting more than a few days. Those with permits, such as sports teams, will still have access to the park. Bathrooms will remain open.

Messina described the cleanup as a “deep sanitization,” and said it will include pressure-washing and scrubbing, in addition to trash pickup.

Mayor Harry Kim said the county needs to make sure the park is safe for families.

“It’s way past time — and I stress way past time,” he said. “We got to put our foot down.

“We need to remind everyone that this is our home. It’s not their toilet, it’s not their camping ground, this is not your rubbish dump.”

The park extends to the commuter parking lot, and includes the makai practice fields, in addition to the bandstand.

Messina said a security guard will be posted at the park after it reopens.

Email Tom Callis at

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