At heated meeting, residents clash over future of popular Ewa Beach park

At heated meeting, residents clash over future of popular Ewa Beach park
At the meeting Thursday night, residents talked about starting a petition to establish park hours. But homeless pushed back and explained their positions. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oneula Beach Park, also known as “Hau Bush,” has been overridden with illegal dumping, homeless encampments and crime for years.

'It’s not really safe for keiki to be over here period,” said resident Kanani Poland.

“I wouldn’t personally bring my kids over here to come to the beach. There’s always like needles around, there’s trash, the bathrooms are not sanitized and it’s really disgusting."

So on Thursday, Councilwoman Kymberly Pine brought together residents and city leaders to talk about what needs to be done.

The director for the city’s Department of Design and Construction said two major capital improvement projects for the park will start in June: Road repair and irrigation for the ball field.

The improvements can’t come soon enough, residents say.

“This whole issue with beach park and the condition that it’s in, it’s embarrassing. My family came from the mainland. I cannot take them to the beach,” said one community member. “You don't know what you're going to step in. You don't know who's going to harass you. All of that has happened to me."

Some residents said the main problem is the park is open 24/7.

“It’s not the beachgoers, it’s the people who live there,” said another community member.

Residents talked about starting a petition to establish regular closure hours as soon as possible.

However, homeless individuals who were also at the meeting pushed back, explained their positions and asked for more respect.

"I’m a resident. I speak on behalf of all of us,” said Terry Kernanghan, who has lived in the park for almost two years and said the homeless are not the problem.

“I try stepping up and say you know what, we don’t need the cops here all the time. They got big stuff to take care of. Why don’t we just police our own," Kernanghan said. "What do you get against us?”

Pine said the reason why park closure hours were never implemented in the past is because of the popularity of surfing and fishing there.

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