The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation caught a break after discovering Monday thieves had stolen the top rail and more than 100 feet of chain-link fence from the baseball field at Hawaiian Beaches Park in Pahoa.
“Our park caretakers, when they went to weed-eat the property, found the fencing in the bushes. Somebody had rolled all the fencing up and stashed it to come and get it later. So we’ve got that now,” Deputy Parks Director Maurice Messina told the Tribune-Herald Wednesday.
“We have a fencing crew,” added Parks Director Roxcie Waltjen. “We’re working a lot of projects now, but we’ll have it on the schedule.”
Hawaiian Beaches Park has had numerous acts of vandalism as of late, according to the department. There’s been break-ins at the park’s shed where supplies are kept, and graffiti on the baseball scorer’s booth has been painted over so many times that Messina joked, “It’s probably bulletproof by now.”
Waltjen said that in her many years at Parks and Rec, she’s never known of anyone to steal a fence that’s been installed.
“This is not something that we’ve prepared for; it’s not even something that we envisioned, that someone would be so against public enjoyment of a park that they would actually steal a fence from a baseball field,” Messina added. “For the 17 parks that we have in Puna, we have only nine park caretakers. They have to clean every single park, every single day. That’s all bathrooms, all trash bags, everything. And included in that is all the mowing and weed-eating, everything that’s got to happen. So when we have to put all these resources at one park, that’s taking away from all the other parks in Puna. We’re stretched thin as it is. We’re operating on a status quo budget. And our department and the taxpayers of Hawaii County can’t afford to keep fixing our facilities after vandalism and theft.”
The department is asking anyone with information about the incident to call the police nonemergency number at 935-3311, and anyone who sees vandalism at county parks or beaches should call Parks and Rec at 961-8311 as soon as possible.
“This increase in vandalism is tough,” Waltjen said. “Anybody who sees anything unusual, please call our office and let us know, so we can call the police.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.