Parts of a popular beach park in Hilo will be closed starting next week due to construction.
Effective June 6, the parking lot at Richardson Ocean Park will be closed to the public and a portion of the park, from the parking lot to an area below the comfort station, will be closed for the first phase of a construction project. Pedestrian access through part of the parking lot and around both sides of the Richardson Ocean Center will remain open. In addition, the existing toilets and showers will remain available to the public.
The construction area will then expand, beginning July 5, to encompass the entire parking lot and perimeter of the Ocean Center. Access to the park’s waterfront areas will be maintained throughout the project, while access to the sandy beach will be through the makai side of the building only. Existing public showers and toilets will also be closed for construction. Portable toilets and hand washing stations and a new shower area will be made available to the public for the remainder of the project.
Hawaii Fire Department Water Safety Officers will provide regular monitoring of the park throughout the duration of the project. The $2.9 million project is expected to be completed next February.
There may be temporary, short-term closures of other areas of the park if construction requires. There may also be temporary water service interruptions that will affect shower availability.
The project is necessary for the county to comply with its transition plan, mandated by the US Federal Disabilities Act. The primary goal of the project is to establish safe and equal access to park facilities, amenities and public programs. In addition, the project will provide improved access to sandy areas of the park, major renovations to the ocean center, and accessibility upgrades and repairs to restrooms, showers, and parking.
“We understand that the timing of this work, at the start of the summer and after more than two years of impacts of COVID-19 on our community, may seem like poor judgment,” said the director of parks and recreation of the county, Maurice Messina, in a press release. “However, honoring the county’s and our community’s obligation to provide ADA access to this premier beach park is long overdue. The time required to implement the works in this sensitive coastal environment and repair such an important historic building meant that the project would impact summer use this year or next.
Once complete, Messina said all park users will appreciate the improvements for years to come.
“Our Hilo beach parks are so heavily used year-round that there’s never a good time to do construction,” he said in the press release. “However, our aging waterfront facilities are in particular need of significant repairs and upgrades, and we are asking the public to support us and carry out the necessary work here.”