Every day, from morning 'til deep into the evening twilight, kids of all ages can be seen enjoying themselves at the recently opened West Maui Skatepark along Honoapiilani Highway adjacent to the Lahaina Aquatic Center. In the three short months since the Maui County Parks and Recreation project opened, the state-of-the-art facility, the multilevel skill level bowls, ledges and rails, have become the most popular venue on the West Side for skateboard enthusiasts.
Surely, Maui residents and visitors alike daily see the keiki enjoying the clean, outdoor activity with keen admiration for the care and attention to the welfare of the children of our community.
Indeed, it has been a most rewarding and fulfilling effort on several fronts to bring this project to fruition, which serves to legitimize the oft-misunderstood and formerly renegade sport of skateboarding, particularly here in Lahaina where clashes between sidewalk surfers and police and merchants had created the tension that led to bumper stickers reading, "Skateboarding is not a crime." With the arrival of the Lahaina skatepark, that negative energy is gone.
And standing tall as the positive energizer, the force that pushed the project from beginning to completion, is Lahaina Skate Company owner/operator Donovan McNabb. For more than seven years, McNabb worked tirelessly as the catalyst - publicist, fundraising leader, researcher, liaison - in the effort to bring a skatepark to Lahaina.
A pipe dream in 2004 is today the reality of the joy of hundreds of children - and some daring adults - that can be seen every day and under the lights at the park.
"This has been a total success and exceeded our expectations as to the amount of kids that would use the park," commented McNabb last week.
"We are so happy how things have turned out, and much credit should go out to the entire community for the support that got the project done. Especially, the contributions of Parks Director Pat Matsui, Project Specialist Tammy Osurman and Pam English from the West Maui Taxpayers Association enabled the completion of the project.
"We really didn't anticipate the amount of kids that would come out and use the park," McNabb continued. "We are pleased to be able to provide a place that keeps the kids off the streets and having some good, clean fun outside. They just completed a similar facility in Hana that is very successful as well."
McNabb noted that skill levels are going up, and competitions are on the docket in the upcoming months.
"There are some competitions planned by the county coming up soon with contests for all ages. These kids are getting better and better and have shown wonderful etiquette and respect for the park and each other. We've seen more helmet and protective gear use lately, and we encourage everyone to take the proper precautions."
Just as the quality waves of the West Maui shoreline provided training venue for Lahaina professional surfers Cheyne Magnusson, Dusty Payne and Clay Marzo, the West Maui Skatepark is destined to produce elite skateboard performances on the national level.
Watch for the Lahaina boys and girls on ESPN at future X Games events. Mark it, guaranteed.