WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five weeks after we exposed an illegal dumpsite in Waipahu the city's new administration is making good on a promise to clean it up all while saving taxpayer money.
The City of Honolulu Parks and Recreation Department posted no trespassing keep out signs back in February. Then police did a homeless sweep in June. And now the city is starting to pick up the trash that was left behind.
Right now the junk is in separated piles, scrap metal, tires, wood and other waste is all stacked up. Another section used to be an elaborate homeless camp, now all the rubbish is ready to be removed.
"In the past 14 years I have never ever had such a positive response, ever," said Carroll Cox, EnviroWatch. "In the past we've found these sites and it takes months, even years to address them."
Carroll Cox is used to poking around and digging up dirt as an environmental watchdog, but now he finds himself in new territory actually praising a politician.
"If this is a sign of what's to come with this administration I want to be the first, who's always complaining, I want to be the first to acknowledge and I think it's only fair and let it be known, and let the public know that this was an absolute positive response from a new administration," said Cox, who credited Mayor Peter Carlisle, who was sworn into office two weeks before being alerted to the illegal dumpsite.
"We appreciate his positive comments and you know the city will continue in its best efforts to address situations and concerns that come up whether by Mr. Cox or other community members," said Richard Haru, Parks & Recreation Deputy Director.
The city worked out an agreement with various groups. Inmates have been separating the junk and doing most of the labor. And Aloha Aina will pick up the cost to dump the debris at a private landfill in Nanakuli. That alone is saving the city thousands of dollars.
As for preventing illegal dumpers from coming back, they're working on that too.
"Preventative measures are already in place. The Navy erected a chain link fence that prevents any vehicular traffic from encroaching into that area," said Haru.
It will be a couple more weeks before all the trash is taken away. People who use the trails look forward to the cleaned up look.
"Back here when I was growing up it used to be really clean and completely safe and I can say that it's not as clean and completely not as safe as it was before," said Terry Hallums, who uses the nearby trails with her four children. "People in general just need to be more aware of what they're doing and how it harms the land and how it can harm our children. It doesn't take much to take it to the dump in Waipahu, they're always open so just go a little further and take it where it needs to go."
She has a valid point. All those people illegally dumping their trash behind Waipahu High School are only a 5 minute drive from a legal drop-off site. The city's convenience center on Waipahu Depot Road is just 1.3 miles away.
The city has ten drop off sites around Oahu, all of them are free. To check out your closest site visit Opala.org or click the related links section on this page.