Homeless campers rack up $500K+ damage at park in Kaka'ako
HCDA said a dozen electrical boxes were tampered with by the homeless mostly to power anything from refrigerators, radios, air conditioners and fans.
Hawaii Community Development Authority's decision to close Kaka'ako Waterfront Park to the public has frustrated park users. On Thursday, HCDA took local media on a tour of the state park to point out why the closure was necessary. The state agency manages the park and said illegal campers racked up at least $500K in hazardous damage.
HCDA said a dozen electrical boxes were tampered with by the homeless mostly to power anything from refrigerators, radios, air conditioners and fans. A number of doctored irrigation pumps were found, as well. The damage so extensive, water continues to leak from spigots jammed into pumps.
Wiring was also tapped into 38 light poles scattered across the park. Plugging into electric sources sparked several fires, HCDA said. One in particular started while someone was cooking rice in their makeshift tent.
Crews started clearing the park of campers Sunday night. It took crews a couple days to remove about 120 campsites from the park and clear around 15 truckloads of trash.
This is the second time in two years the state's shut the park down.
"Our staff has periodically gone around and asked people to leave. We've issued citations but from our agency standpoint we don't have the power to force anybody to do that," said HCDA spokesman Garret Kamemoto.
HCDA said it plans to work with other agencies to implement more consistent enforcement at the park with the hope of avoiding another closure.
There's no set time frame on when the park will reopen but when it does HCDA will open it in phases.