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Molokai Gets New Playground

The children of Molokai will have a new place to play soon after the construction of a new playground at One Ali`i Park. After three years of petitioning from the community, the project was approved by the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC).

Zach Helm, Molokai District Supervisor for the county Department of Parks and Recreation, said that he hopes the new playground can be built by fall 2011. The last playground at One Ali`i Park, a jungle gym and a slide, was removed two years ago. The new playground will be “state of the art,” Helm said.

 “This is a healthy and beneficial project for the community,” Helm said. The project was given a Special Management Area (SMA) permit exemption last week.
Public accessibility is one of the new playground’s biggest perks, Helm noted. The Kaunakakai area currently has no public play structures, and most school’s playgrounds on Molokai are not open to the public due to liability issues.

“A lot of families use the Kaunakakai [Elementary School] playground, and actually it’s trespassing,” Erin Raguindin, a Kaunakakai Elementary School counselor, said in her testimony supporting of the project. 

The new addition will be paid for by a $62,000 grant from Van Valkenburg Trust and an additional $82,500 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, totaling $150,000 for the project.

More than half of that money will go toward the shipping and equipment itself, and the remainder will fund labor.  The manufacturer of the equipment, Innovation Playground and Recreation, will supply one supervisor during the construction of the project.

Helm is encouraging the public to get involved in the construction of the new playground. Within the next month, he will organize a pre-construction meeting to gather volunteers, he said.

“We want as much money as we can to go into the project and not labor,” Helm said.

Helm said safety is a key benefit of the new structure. Many playgrounds in Maui County shut down in the 1990s due to lawsuits occurring due to children getting hurt. The equipment to be used in the Molokai park will also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for handicapped accessibility.

The playground will feature special padding on the ground to cushion children in the event of an accident, and the area will be surrounded by boulders for protection from vehicle traffic.

 “Hopefully in the future we can build more parks. We really need something like this,” Helm said.

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