City criticized for $250K price tag of Kamehameha III statue for Thomas Square

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is facing new criticism over a statue of King Kamehameha III commissioned for Honolulu's historic Thomas Square. The price tag: a whopping $250,000.

"It's really disappointing that these are the priorities when there are so many other needs in other parks," said Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Kobayashi, who represents the district and chairs the parks committee, says her constituents want to keep the square as a peaceful park, and the money should instead be spent on other city parks where many have complained over bathroom conditions.

"The parents have to go in there before a big tournament and clean the restrooms, bring their own toilet paper, bring their own paper towels and soap. That's not right. So let's take care of these things first," she said.

The city says it's already spending considerable money on fixing up parks, making repairs at 105 different parks as of June.

Some officials hopes the statue will become a landmark and a gathering place to share Hawaii's history with residents and visitors alike.

"We cannot compare luas (bathrooms) to Alii. This is something for our keiki's soul," Misty Kelai, executive director of the city's office of culture and arts said. "We need to honor them properly and this is what were trying to do at Thomas Square."

Kelai says the statue will pay tribute to La Hoihoi Ea, also known as Restoration Day, which took place at the site back in 1843.

The Hawaiian Kingdom was restored back to Kamehameha III after a five-month long seizure by the British.

"They will stop at Thomas Square and say 'I never knew that.' 'I'm learning something.' 'I'm so proud.' You cannot put a price on that," said Kelai.

The city plans to unveil the statue July 31, 2018 on the 175th anniversary of Restoration Day.

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