By Tommy Noyes

About 160 volunteers, including Rob Ladendecker of the Center for Spiritual Living, worked together on June 16, celebrating Earth Day in Lydgate Park 2018. The annual community workday was rescheduled from April due to heavy floods. Photo by Larry Lindsay/Friends of Kamalani

“Happy to help the kids!” Rob Ladendecker summed up the positive attitude of about 160 Friends of Kamalani volunteers who completed an impressive task list on June 16. An excellent lunch donated by local merchants, restaurants, and hotels topped off the Earth Day in Lydgate Park 2018 community workday.

The County of Kaua‘i Department of Parks and Recreation has been busy in Lydgate Park. After the April floods, a mass of driftwood choked the park’s enclosed swimming ponds. In early May, the county engaged contractors to deploy heavy machinery, haul away, and grind that driftwood into mulch.

Additionally, the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau generously allocated funds to expand the contractors’ scope of work. The contractors cleared thousands of logs from the swimming ponds and beaches, but driftwood continues to wash over the battered stone seawall, into the ponds, and onto the beach.

Every Saturday at 8:30 a.m., volunteers meet near the lifeguard tower to take care of this popular beach. Beach grooming is an ongoing, weekly effort, and your kokua is always welcomed. The well-publicized community workday greatly increased the turnout of energetic volunteers. They raked up driftwood from the entire length of the ponds’ beach, filled a 30-yard roll-off green waste container, and left the beach about 96 percent clear-sand.

The Parks Department will soon install many enhancements in the 24-year-old Kamalani Playground, including new slides and a resilient play surface. Earth Day volunteers conducted maintenance, and applied a coat of wood sealer to the playground in anticipation of those pending renovations.

Volunteer Peggy Price said, “It felt really good to work in Kamalani Playground, being part of the community. Now I’ll always look at the playground with pride!”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho jr. issued a Proclamation, stating, “We acknowledge the efforts of the Friends of Kamalani in hosting this Earth Day community workday. To all the volunteers, sponsors, and residents, we extend a mahalo for your commitment in making this project a huge success, and for being such outstanding stewards of our land.”

Kaua‘i County Council Member Derek Kawakami, along several of his team members, worked all morning applying wood sealer to Kamalani Playground. Before lunch, he conveyed the council’s appreciation to the volunteers for their community-building efforts.

“It takes a village to raise a child and it is groups like the Friends of Kamalani and all of the Earth Day volunteers who exemplify the wonderful villages we have on Kaua‘i,” Kawakami said. “So many children and families come to enjoy Kamalani Playground, and for our team to have an opportunity to be a small part of this effort warms our hearts and brings a reminder to all of us about the values of Lokahi and Aloha — working together in harmony, showing love and compassion.”

Additional tasks included cleaning Hikina‘akala Heiau, expanding the new disc golf course, and coastal marine debris removal.

The National Make A Difference Day in Lydgate Park community workday will be on Saturday, Oct. 20. Call (808) 639-1018 or visit Facebook at Friends of Kamalani or for more information.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.