It’s a classic needs-of-the-many versus needs-of-the-few situation.
Here’s a follow-up to Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser prep notebook item about Kalani’s baseball team losing its home field, Kahala Park, for home games.
Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Al Tufono confirmed that the department will meet with Kalani Athletic Director Gregory Van Cantfort on Nov. 8. It’s a step in the right direction for the Falcons.
The athletic director had requested a meeting after City and County opted to reject Kalani’s request for a permit to play home games at the park. The Falcons have played all home games there since the school opened in 1958.
“We’ll try and remedy the situation,” Tufono said, noting that the department has received two or three complaints about foul balls that drop onto nearby homes.
One resident has damage to roof tiles from years past, and complaints were filed with the City and County.
“The issue of foul balls has been a longstanding one since previous administrations. There have been suggestions to move the plate back closer to the backstop, but nothing really moved on the issues,” Tufono said.
With the recent complaints, department director Garry Cabato made the decision to reject the permit request.
Moving home plate closer to the backstop (fence) is one option. So is adding netting above the fences behind home plate and down along the left- and right-field lines, which has been done at Stevenson Middle School, where Roosevelt plays home games. But Tufono noted that the process of approving alternative solutions like this could take several months.
“It would involve drawings, designs, a lot of work,” he said of the typical, drawn-out process.
Falcons coach Shannon Hirai is hoping for a quick solution since the junior-varsity team has already begun its preseason. The OIA’s JV teams play in the winter.
As for the resident with the damaged roof, Hirai has spoken with her often.
“She was shocked that we got kicked out,” he said. “She thought they would build a higher backstop.”
Hirai said that the resident, who is part of the Neighborhood Board, said that an annual $10,000 donation from Sony to the board for community use could help with finding a solution.
But if the City and County rebuild the facility — the backstop is believed to be the same size as the one built in ’58 — much taller fencing, plus a ramp and dugouts would cost as much as $350,000. Both Tufono and Hirai confirmed that price.
For Kalani, the worst-case scenario is that Kalani requests home games at Koko Head District Park, but that would entail bus rentals of more than $100 per game.
“We might be better off playing away rather than have to line the field, drag it and water it,” said Hirai, who has never been to the park’s Mike Goeas Field.
Kalani is allowed to practice at Kahala Park. A tube, or “bubble,” covering home plate prevents foul balls from leaving the field.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser