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Honolulu sees reduced park vandalism with upgraded security

September 16, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has seen the cost of repairing vandalism to city parks fall because of new security strategies, officials said.

Park vandalism repair costs fell to $223,000 from July 2018 through June 2019, The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported Sunday.

The figure represented a nearly 5% decrease from the previous fiscal year when vandalism repairs cost the city $234,000. The decrease was the first since the city began tracking vandalism costs in 2014, officials said.

“All of the vandalism, public safety of our parks, has become an issue when we notice that especially certain parks seem to attract more homeless encampments,” said Georgette Deemer, Honolulu deputy managing director. “It was starting to get costly for taxpayers.”

The city is addressing vandalism and safety in various ways.

Locking restroom gates at night at four additional parks is scheduled to begin Monday, an increase to 62 lockable park restrooms. The expected annual cost is $338,000, or $15 per park each day, parks spokesman Nathan Serota said.

Park rangers have been assigned to Ala Moana Regional Park, Kapiolani Park and Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and are expected to begin overseeing Kakaako parks, officials said.

Honolulu hired Hawaii Protective Association in November at $44,000 annually to rotate unarmed private security guards among nine city parks.

The city also added 40 surveillance cameras in Waikiki to the 10 cameras already installed, although the additions were not directly related to park safety, officials said.

The city also encouraged organizations to use parks to keep them “activated” and deter unwanted activity.

“Activation of the parks is really important,” Parks and Recreation Director Michele Nekota said. “More people there mean more eyes and ears.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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