Park usage numbers increase despite major problems with vandalism and limited facilities
Wave action, public vandalism, limited funding, and the lack of recreational facilities and activities are some of the “major problems” facing the Department of Parks and Recreation, as noted by P&R Director Pili Gaoteote in his department’s first quarter performance report for fiscal year 2013.
According to Gaoteote, the daily maintenance work carried out by his workforce has transformed the public parks dramatically, resulting in the parks being neat, clean, and well manicured. “The community has shown a keen interest in visiting the parks frequently to conduct picnics and various other activities,” the report states, noting that this is a huge difference from usage statistics in previous years.
Gaoteote reports that there has been a steady rise in the community making reservations for park usage. During the first quarter of FY2013 alone, there has been a 45% increase in the number of reservations, and the number does not take into consideration the many people who visit the parks on a daily basis just to have lunch or relax along the beach or under the shade of the trees.
But with the increase in the number of park usage comes problems that Gaoteote says need to be addressed. He said wave action from the tsunami and earthquake have affected the shoreline of all territorial parks and the lack of shoreline protection is resulting in significant loss of reclaimed land at all parks.
P&R oversees the maintenance of all public parks including the Amanave Mini Park, the Pago Pago Tennis Courts, Lyons Park, Su’igaulaoleatuvasa in Utulei, Onesosopo Park, Malaloa Mini Park (Quay), Fagaalu Park, Utulei Beach Park, Pago Pago Park, Tia Seu Lupe historical site at Fatuoaiga, the Little League Softball Field, Solo Ridge at the Utulei Tramway, and the Tony Sola’ita Baseball Field in Tafuna.
The report states that vandalism of public facilities continues to be another major problem, but the territorial park upgrade project should help alleviate this problem. Gaoteote says his department needs more public awareness programs implemented to educate the public on the need for cooperation.
“This department is operated with limited funds,” the report states. “Equipment is urgently needed to reduce the time frame of maintenance of each park.”
Finally, according to the report, it is most important to provide proper facilities for our youth to participate and further their understanding and capabilities to succeed in athletics and other different sports. “The fields utilized for recreational activities and sports are almost non-existent in the territory. Most organized sports are forced to practice in areas which are not fit for use.”
The report concludes, “The vast population increase in the territory is contributing to the amount of recreational facilities required for the promotion of sports activities for our youth in American Samoa.”