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Community comes together to restore Haiku playground

Kalakupua Playground reopened over weekend following renovations

The Kalakupua Playground at the Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park, also referred to as Giggle Hill, reopened Saturday to the public after being closed for a week while undergoing renovations. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY OF MAUI photos

Joshua Berlien said Tuesday that keeping playgrounds on Maui safe and fun for generations to come requires some “TLC” every once in a while.

The Kalakupua Playground at the Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park, also referred to as Giggle Hill, reopened Saturday to the public after being closed for a week while undergoing much-needed renovations and tender loving care by community volunteers.

“This project was about keeping it around for another 20 years for the next generation to enjoy,” said Berlien, president of the Construction Industry of Maui, which donated nearly $40,000 worth of skilled labor, equipment and materials. “Not every day is a beach day and you have to have places to let kids play and be kids.”

Renovations last week included a lot of woodwork, like redoing the deck at the entryway, using about 40 gallons of paint to resurface the playground infrastructure, removing and installing new posts on the perimeter fence, addressing rotting to structural supports, fixing any hidden repairs inside the playground, repouring concrete footings and restoring the pickets with the original donors’ names etched in them.

The Construction Industry of Maui “ended up donating a crazy wonderful amount of materials and labor to help get the park back into good shape,” said Maile Davis, Haiku Community Association playground volunteer coordinator, who had reached out to the organization for assistance.

Keiki volunteers smile for a photo Saturday while painting posts and other structural supports at Kalakupua Playground at Giggle Hill Park in Haiku. Companies islandwide donated supplies and labor to the restoration project, including Arita-Poulson General Contracting, Da Kine Paints, By Design Builders, Cohen Development, JD Painting, King Power Systems, Maui Plumbing, Pacific Painting, Valley Isle Fencing, Waste Pro Hawaii and many more.

Berlien, also a father of three, said that the playground in Haiku is probably frequented by thousands of keiki, families and schoolchildren each year, including his own.

The wood infrastructure might require frequent maintenance since the park is often hit with Upcountry rains, he said.

Under an agreement with the county to upkeep Kalakupua Playground, the community association organizes volunteers to meet once a month to make any necessary minor repairs as well as to do some weeding, picking up trash or painting, Davis said.

However, sometimes it’s challenging for the small group of volunteers to keep up with the maintenance, especially these past couple of years amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It could be in jeopardy of shutting down without consistent repairs,” she said. “We’re ecstatically grateful for the Construction Industry of Maui because it was much needed. It’s greatly appreciated.”

Senior Project Manager Tom Noble of Arita-Poulson General Contracting, who championed the project and had boots on the ground each day, said there was a “little more work involved than we thought, originally,” but was grateful with how the community stepped up to donate supplies and labor.

Some companies who supported the project included Da Kine Paints, By Design Builders, Cohen Development Group, JD Painting, Maui Plumbing, Pacific Painting, Valley Isle Fencing, Waste Pro Hawaii and many more.

About 35 individuals helped to finish the painting on Saturday.

“Everybody came in at the end there, came in full force — it was a great ending,” Noble said Wednesday. “It was an effort on everybody’s part. I was very impressed.”

The community association is always seeking more community support and volunteers to help maintain the playground each month, especially skilled laborers to do larger carpentry jobs that might come up, like replacing broken fences or rotting posts, Davis said.

The next Kalakupua Playground volunteer day is Feb. 19, usually from 8 to 11:30 a.m., at Giggle Hill Park.

For more information, visit haikumaui.org or email Haikucommunitypm@gmail.com.

The nonprofit Construction Industry of Maui, which encompasses a network of members throughout the building industry, provides education, scholarship, training and advocacy opportunities.

To learn more or how to donate to the Construction Industry of Maui, visit Cimmaui.com.

“It was a wonderful, tremendous feeling to give back to the community and that’s part of our mission with the nonprofit organization at CIM,” Berlien said. “We’d happily do it again.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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