(BIVN) – From the County of Hawaiʻi:
East Hawai‘i’s “Keaukaha Quick Build” project received the prestigious Community-Based Planning Award from the American Planning Association’s (APA) Hawai‘i Chapter at its award ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa in Po‘ipū on Sept. 15, 2022.
The annual awards recognize individuals, communities, private organizations, public agencies, and professional planning and design firms whose work exemplifies the planning profession’s highest goals and ideals. Award nominations were reviewed, and a jury of professional planners selected winners from the APA Hawai‘i Chapter.
“SSFM is proud to have been involved in this community-driven project to enhance safety and sense of place in Keaukaha, one of the state’s first Hawaiian Homestead communities. The project offers valuable lessons and best practices for community planning efforts in Hawaiian communities and rural areas in general. In addition, it can serve as a model for future quick build, active transportation, and placemaking efforts across the state,” said Michael Matsumoto, SSFM President & CEO.
Originally conceived during a 2015 Safe Routes to School planning effort, the Keaukaha Quick Build created a continuous walking and biking path around the school campus and fields, which now connects new and existing pathways by realigning parking stalls, creating community murals, and installing protective delineators. All portions of the Hawaiian Homestead neighborhood are within a couple of blocks of the 2,000 feet pathway for accessing the park, schools, and the other neighborhood facilities located in the piko, or center of the community.
Quick-build projects take less than a year to plan and implement and use flexible installation materials, such as paint and moveable barriers, to catalyze long-term change in neighborhoods and streets, helping ensure that the transportation system and projects serve the communities’ needs and visions more dynamically.
In response to the community’s safety concerns, the Keaukaha Quick Build’s award-winning design was approved with overwhelming community support following a needs assessment and multiple planning workshops hosted by the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, Keaukaha Community Association and People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i (PATH). The Hawai‘i Department of Health provided funding, and additional support was provided by the County of Hawai‘i Planning Department, SSFM International, Inc., Planning for Community LLC, and the Ulupono Fund at Hawai‘i Community Foundation.
Playing a significant role in winning the Community-Based Planning Award are the project’s three beautiful street murals designed by lifelong Keaukaha resident and artist Kawehi Malu-Roberts. Each mural features plants endemic to the surrounding area on Hawai‘i Island and celebrates Keaukaha’s storied history and culture. Dozens of volunteers from local organizations, nearby residents, and students from Keaukaha Elementary School offered their time to help paint each mural. Once the designs were approved, volunteers installed the quick build within four days.
“We are thrilled that the APA Hawaii Chapter recognized this terrific community project,” said Natasha Soriano, transportation planner, County of Hawaii. “The Keaukaha community has wanted to make the center of their community safer for kupuna and keiki for years – and this quick build gave them the opportunity to do so quickly and reflective of their community needs and story.”
Hopefully, other neighborhoods throughout Hawai‘i will be inspired to explore how they can create projects that make for safer and more vibrant communities.
“We are extremely proud of Natasha, our Planning Department, our partnering organizations, and, of course, the Keaukaha community for coming together to implement an award-winning plan for the homestead that has created a safer and more vibrant community for our keiki and their families,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “This is a perfect example of teamwork and coming together to create community-driven solutions that make sense and contribute to a better quality of life for our residents.”