Land secured, Ka‘u nonprofit looking to build big-time skate park

  • Courtesy photo

    Talia Wirtz practically lives in her skates in her Ocean View home.

  • Courtesy rendering The Ka‘u Skate Club envisions a multipurpose rink being built at Kahuku Park in Ocean View.

KAILUA-KONA — A Ka‘u community is coming together in a grassroots effort to create a multipurpose recreational center.

What began as an effort to start a roller derby team turned into a vision of a center that would include a skating rink with bleachers, pavilion, dog park and walking path adjacent to Kahuku Park in Ocean View.

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Ka‘u Skate Club — a nonprofit organization started by Ocean View residents Erika Prowse, Lzena Barrett and Lisa Olivarez — secured a 10-acre parcel in June from the county Department of Parks and Recreation to help turn its vision into reality.

The group is waiting to see if an environmental assessment performed in the 1980s for the location is still valid, if it needs to be amended or if a new EA should be done. The group has an archaeologist on standby, ready to volunteer their time if a new EA is needed.

In the meantime, the group is trying to raise the $300,000 to build the facility.

“We are partnering with nonprofits and volunteers to donate labor and materials to keep the cost down,” Prowse said.

The club is looking for corporate sponsors and counting on community support to make the park happen. It also is looking for grant writers to help apply for community grants available in November.

“The community needs a place to go,” Prowse said. “There’s a lot of at-risk kids down here. There’s nothing to do, so some kids turn to drugs and gangs. This will be a place to go to get away from that.”

The organization is planning to build in phases once all the permitting is in place, with completion taking two to three years. The group currently meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at Kahuku Park to enjoy the different styles of roller skating. Anyone at any skating level is welcome.

“It’s all about the kids,” Prowse said, noting the club has provided Christmas presents for neighborhood kids as well as an Easter Egg Hunt, all paid out-of-pocket by members.

Now the group is ready to take it to the next step.

And 9 year-old Talia Wirtz is ready.

She has skated for two years and loves the sport. She skates almost daily inside her house, and during baseball season she would skate at the park on the basketball court while her brother was practicing.

She is excited about the possibility of having a skating rink at the park and would use it “after school, every weekend, and as much as I can.”

“It would be great to have a big place to skate,” Talia said. “I can go with friends who don’t have skates and they can skateboard or whatever.”

She also envisions the rink with lights and music and as a place to have birthday parties.

And she might even teach some of her friends how to skate.

“I skate by myself. It would be more fun to skate with others,” Talia said.

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Maurice Messina said he’s excited about the prospect of the skate park.

“We’re very thankful for the Ka‘u Skate Club’s interest in and pledge to develop a new skate park at Kahuku Park in the district of Ka‘u,” he wrote in an email. “The Department of Parks and Recreation recognizes the many positive physical, mental, social and societal impacts that the creation of a safe, challenging, and well-managed skating facility can have in and on a community, such as Ocean View. We commend the Ka‘u Skate Club for championing this worthwhile effort and look forward to a long-lasting and successful partnership.”

The department will support the club in the planning, design, permitting and construction phases of the proposed skate park inasmuch as its resources allow, he added.

“We look forward to working with the Ka’u Skate Club to make this skate park a reality,” Messina wrote.

Fundraisers are in the works, including an upcoming garage sale and an Oct. 19 concert at Tiki Mama’s.

“We can’t stress enough how grateful we are to Maile David and Park and Rec,” Prowse said. “They have been so supportive of this project, and we obviously would not be able to bring this project to fruition without them.”

“When you bring more positive in an area, you can lift spirits and change people’s lives,” she added.

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For more information or to make a donation, visit kauskateclub.com.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

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