Changes in the works for parks in Haleiwa, Pupukea

Changes in the works for parks in Haleiwa, Pupukea: Ben's 10 p.m. Story
Ernie Martin
Ernie Martin
Larry McElheny
Larry McElheny
"Scuba Drew" Wheeler
"Scuba Drew" Wheeler

HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last year, the city triggered a controversy when it announced plans to sell surplus property in Haleiwa to the highest bidder.

The 3.4 acres are across from Haleiwa Beach Park.

City Council Chairman Ernie Martin now wants the mayor to remove the property from the surplus lands list and release funds to build a canoe halau.

"We have two major canoe clubs out in the area who have a difficult time storing their canoes. I think the site at Haleiwa Beach Park, whether it be in the park itself or at the vacant parcels, are excellent sites," he said.

One of the possible buyers of the land was developer D.G. "Andy" Anderson, who wanted to build a new Haleiwa Hotel in the area.

The Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition sued the city last year when it wanted to sell the parcels. Coalition member Larry McElheny likes Martin's idea.

"It all sounds really good. It just makes perfect sense to me," he said.

Martin also wants to develop a passive park on the site with more parking spaces.

"The parking lot at the beach side is very limited," he said. "During canoe season, that can fill up quite quickly. Additional parking in the parcels adjacent to the park is much needed."

"We applaud Chair Martin's effort to maximize public access to this great recreational resource, by improving the park for canoe users and other beach goers," said attorney Jim Bickerton, who represents Save Haleiwa.

McElheny said he will keep close tabs on the proposal as it moves forward.

"We have a ways to go in my opinion," he said. "We'll be there shining the light on proceedings whenever we can."

"In the long run it's not just the community that's going to benefit. Even other members of the community who don't live necessarily in Haleiwa but who make use of the park," Martin said.

Meanwhile the city is also looking at making major improvements at Pupukea Beach Park, which includes Shark's Cove, a popular dive spot.

The plans include renovating an old basketball court and two comfort stations, as well as adding landscaping to stop erosion. It also would add more shade trees and picnic areas.

Parking changes would also be made at the park, including having an area for commercial dive operators for pick ups and drop offs. That has those operators concerned.

"If they just provide a drop off area but don't provide a secure parking area, then all of our dive clients are gonna have their personal possessions in our dive vans not guarded," said Surf & Sea dive instructor "Scuba Drew" Wheeler.

Wheeler is also a member of the environmental group Malama Pupukea Waimea. He said that the group generally supports the proposal, which is currently in draft form. The estimated cost of the improvements and renovations is $6.2 million.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.