Honolulu’s Sidewalks are Finally Getting Some TLC Thanks to These Volunteers
Service clubs, veterans and citizens are working under the radar to make civic repairs—with City Hall’s approval. Now you can, too.
Photo: Diane Lee
When Jason No hung up his military fatigues for a civilian career after eight-plus years in the Army, the weekends, he says, “were the worst.” The 35-year-old missed the camaraderie of working with a team. Walking his Makakilo neighborhood as part of his fresh start as a financial planner for Edward Jones, the former cavalry scout says he “just happened to knock on the door of the secretary of the Kāne‘ohe Lions Club, J. C. Kalopodes.”
No put his financial skills to use as Kāne‘ohe Lions treasurer. Under a new district governor, Nadine Nishioka, the Lions welcomed his suggestion that they revive an old program—one that fixed up sidewalks. “I said, Hey, let’s bring it back,” No says. Although homeowners are responsible for the upkeep of frontage property, “normally we don’t recommend that people fix their sidewalks,” says Tyler Sugihara of the city’s Department of Facilities Management. “But we’d been working with the city’s corporation counsel to enable groups to adopt projects.”
No also brought the idea to a veteran’s group, The Mission Continues. “We’re a national organization that started to provide an outlet for veterans who wish to continue serving their community,” says director Carlos Santana, 45, of Kalihi. “We’d formed a service platoon when Jason got this thing going with the City & County and the Lions Club.”
And that’s how TMC and Lions squads converged on Kawa Street in Kāne‘ohe on the last Saturday in August. “We met at zero-eight hour,” says No. “We cleaned sidewalks and then, anywhere the elevation was off a quarter inch, laid down epoxy, then our cement mix, leveled it, added some grooves so it wouldn’t be slick in the rain. We did it all the way down the road, both sides, in two hours.”
Pleased with the results, in September they did a block in Chinatown and “intend to patch sidewalks on a monthly basis with our support,” as part of the city’s Mālama O Ka ‘Āina volunteer program, says DFM director Ross Sasamura. “It’s a good feeling,” says No, “to be able to work with like-minded individuals. We just hunker down and work through it. Now we are looking at a bunch of other projects across the whole island. We want service platoons to take care of towns, to take care of the Windward and Leeward sides. We have a lot of veterans.”
Learn more: Call the DFM at 768-3600 and ask for Tyler.
READ MORE STORIES BY DON WALLACE