Paradise Park may reopen as Hawaiian cultural center - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Paradise Park may reopen as Hawaiian cultural center

The old layout of former Paradise Park The old layout of former Paradise Park
Michael Pili Pang Michael Pili Pang
MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The owners of Paradise Park are proposing turning the former botanical and zoological garden into a Hawaiian cultural center for hula and music.

Paradise Park opened in the late 1960s, attracting busloads of school kids and tourists to see the exotic birds and gardens, and later a dinosaur exhibit and mazes.

The park closed in January 1994. From 2004 to 2007, it was the home of Halau Ku Mana, a public charter school. Since then, there has been a snack shop and restrooms for visitors to Manoa Falls.

"Well, the park has been closed for quite a while, and the vision right now is to reopen the park and to get people up there to be able to use the park as a cultural center," said Michael Pili Pang, kumu hula of Halau Hula Ka No`eau, who has been instrumental in the planning for such a center.

"A Hawaiian cultural center would have two floors of arts and crafts and studio spaces for halaus and other musicians to use," he said. 

The center could also eventually include a museum to showcase Manoa Valley, along with new gardens and an amphitheater.

When Paradise Park first opened, there was some community opposition because of increased traffic.

"There's always a concern with any development," said Eric Eads, chair of the Manoa Neighborhood Board. "It's the parking situation, the traffic, whether or not the roads can handle the added traffic and things like that."

"Currently there's over a hundred thousand people that visit the park each year, and the park isn't even open. That's because people are going to the waterfalls, Manoa Falls," said Pang.

The park only has had a snack shop and restrooms open for people parking there to hike to Manoa Falls.

If the change for a cultural center is approved, Paradise Park would be limited to 430,000 visitors a year.

No price tag was disclosed. The proposal goes before the State Land Board Friday.

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