City begins Kapiolani Park cleanup

Kevin Iwasaki
Kevin Iwasaki
Pam Thyrring
Pam Thyrring

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - It's the first day of spring break, and the city shuts down part of Waikiki's world famous park Monday. It's an effort to clean up and renovate Kapiolani Park, and to find another place for the homeless to stay. The touchy subject pits those who want a pristine park versus those who say they have no place to go.

It's a bit early to tell if the plan is working, but city crews did shut down a huge section of the park. Many flock to Waikiki, especially on a gorgeous day like Monday, and they applaud the city's effort to clean up the park.

This is the reason folks from all over the world flock to Waikiki. Its warm beaches and cool parks welcome those near and far.

"It is absolutely gorgeous," said Pam Thyrring, who is visiting from Jacksonville, Florida. 'It's the best of paradises."

To maintain that image of Waikiki, the city is cleaning up Kapiolani Park.

For now, they've shut down a section of the park, just diamond head of Kapahulu, It'll be closed for about a month for clean up and renovations.

And it's also a way to move out the homeless.

"They should find somewhere for the homeless to go besides the parks," said Kevin Iwasaki, a Wahiawa resident who was visiting the park with his grandson Dakota. "There's a lot of homeless in Hawaii, and they should build shelters or something for the homeless to go to."

Homeless people like Anthony Yamashiro say that's exactly what they want.

"Find us a place," said Yamashiro who has been homeless for more than two years. "Find a place for the homeless and we will go there. That's all I can say."

Yamashiro says he was in a treatment program, but funding ran out, and he ended up on the streets.

"It's not like we like being around all this," he said. "People judge us. People stare at us. It's not fun."

He hopes the government puts more money to funding to help the homeless.

"We need more," said Yamashiro. "If they had more shelters, more transitional living programs, there would be no more homeless here."

That would be a win-win for the homeless and those who use the park.

"I think that's a great idea," said Thyrring. "I think you have a fabulous park system and there are so many gorgeous places here to stop and take a break and enjoy the paradise."

The first phase of the park restoration project should be finished in about a month. Then, the city will tackle the other section of the park. Homeless folks hope a solution is found soon, because right now, they say they're being forced to go eastward.