City budget cuts may affect parks and recreation centersUPDATED 7:44 PM HST Sep 03, 2013Video Transcript
Yunji de Nies, Paula's off tonight. KITV4's Andrew Pereira's obtained a list of possible budget cuts... He joins us live with our top story... Andrew, some big stuff on the chopping block! Yunji... we're talking pools, parks, gyms... and possibly tiki torches, too! :15 :55 1:06 1:40 Big and popular ... parks like Kapiolani are NOT likely to be affected. But smaller areas like Wai'alae Beach Park and shoreline access points WILL feel the pinch as the Department of Parks and Recreation scales back maintenance. TONI ROBINSON: "SO, SOME OF OUR SMALL AREAS LIKE BEACH RIGHT OF WAYS, SMALL PARKS THAT WE USE INDEPENDENT MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS FOR, WE'RE GOING TO BE CUTTING THOSE OUT." Parks and Rec needs to trim $1.5 million from it's operating expenses as the city tries to stay ahead of a budget deficit totaling $26 million. Part-time staff will be reduced by 25 percent, which means ... TONI ROBINSON: 225 "WE MAY HAVE TO CLOSE SOME GYMS AND SWIMMING POOLS THAT WE WOULD NORMALLY HAVE OPEN FOR FREE PLAY." 232 That's a concern for Councilman Ron Menor, who says kids may be left to their own devices if parks facilities are closed. RON MENOR: "I INTEND TO EXPRESS MY CONCERNS TO THE MAYOR AND ASK TO HIM TO RECONSIDER HIS POSITION AND TO RESTORE FUNDING LEVELS TO OUR PARKS DEPARTMENT TO THE BENEFIT OF THE RESIDENTS OF OUR ISLAND." ANDREW PEREIRA: "BUT ROBINSON SAYS HER PLAN IS TO CLOSE CITY POOLS AND GYMNASIUMS, LIKE HERE AT PALOLO VALLEY DISTRICT PARK, WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DISRUPTION TO THE PUBLIC." TONI ROBINSON: "WE HOPE TO DO IT IN SUCH A WAY THAT IN A GEOGRAPHICAL AREA THERE WILL BE AT LEAST OTHER SWIMMING POOLS THAT WILL BE AVAILABLE TO USE, OR OTHER GYMS THAT WILL BE OPEN FOR FREE PLAY, BUT PEOPLE CAN COME AND USE." But you CANNOT drive to another Waikiki. The city is also considering whether to eliminate propane for the Waikiki Torch Lighting Ceremony, which happens at dusk every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. RICK EGGED: "WE'D HATE TO SEE THIS VERY VALUABLE CULTURAL PRESENTATION THAT IS AVAILABLE FOR OUR VISITORS TO GO AWAY AT A TIME WHEN WE'VE INCREASED THE PRICES TO A TRIP TO HAWAII. WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THE QUALITY OF THAT TRIP." The mayor has NOT made a final decision on whether to darken the 54 torches, which means the sun may not yet be setting on the popular event. The city will meet with the Waikiki Improvement Association Sept. 13th to discuss the future of the torch lighting ceremony. All but one city department is being asked to make cuts, but it could get even worse next year when the projected deficit balloons to $156 million dollars. Back to you.