Kailua residents pan Kawainui plan - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kailua residents pan Kawainui plan

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Kailua residents are balking at a state plan to redevelop Hawaii's largest wetlands.

The Kawainui Marsh Master Plan is a re-write of a 20-year-old proposal to manage 1,000-acres of state owned land in Windward Oahu.

But critics say the plan allows the construction of 17 new buildings, overnight camping facilities and parking lots that cater to Waikiki tour buses.

"I'm appalled. And most of Kailua is appalled," Kailua resident Annette Kinnicutt said during a packed meeting of the Kailua Neighborhood Board Thursday night.

"We didn't want restrooms, we didn't want overnight stays, we didn't want huge parking lots. We just wanted it to be accessible."

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said it doesn't want to create a tourist attraction and that any development will touch less than 1 percent of the marsh area.

But residents said that's still too much.

"We felt it was way over the top is in terms of the development. It's supposed to be a sensitive bird sanctuary area," said Charles Prentiss, chairman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board.

Added state Rep. Cynthia Thielen:

"I'm pretty upset with it. Think about what are we doing. Are we making a second Waikiki here, a tourist destination?"

The state believes the concerns are overblown. It said the additions are mostly restrooms, parking spaces, bike paths and pavilions.

"What try to make the area accessible for folks, so folks can get up there and enjoy the area and use it for recreation and education," said David Smith, the DLNR's forestry programs branch manager for Oahu.

Residents have until June 30 to voice their concerns with the state. After that, the state will likely file for an environmental impact study by the end of the summer.

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