Big plans for the ‘people’s park’ aren’t going over well with these people

(Image: City rendering)
(Image: City rendering)
Updated: Mar. 11, 2019 at 11:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - No dog park. No “world-class playground.” And no changes to parking.

That was the overwhelming sentiment of attendees at a community meeting Monday on the future of Ala Moana Regional Park, known as the “people’s park.”

The meeting at McCoy Pavilion was organized by Save Ala Moana Park Hui. Members say the city hasn’t been listening to their voices during the planning process.

“I don’t want anything to be done with our beach,” said Waikiki resident Patricia Shields. “Ala Moana Beach Park is my beach, and it’s my hope that it belongs to all of us.”

One man found out the hard way that the plan for a one-acre children’s playground in the park isn’t as popular as one would think.

“The one thing that I think is really awesome in this EIS (environmental impact statement) is that playground idea,” said Samuel Wilder King II, who was holding a toddler.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing and its absolutely something that should be done in that way, because I think an amazing regional park."

At that point, he was drowned out by booing from the crowd.

“Really fascinating public meeting you have going on here guys, where people come and you boo them for expressing their opinion that disagrees with you,” he said.

“We in the Outdoor Circle think it’s a good idea, but just not here,” said Brian Bagnall, who spoke after Wilder. “We believe the right place for this world-class playground is next to the Children’s Discovery Center” in Kakaako.

His remarks drew cheers.

Other long-standing controversial changes include removing the makai side parking in order to widen the sidewalk into a so-called multi-use walkway.

There’s also a dog park proposed near the Kakaako entrance.

Some believe the changes are proposed to cater to the residents of the high-rise condominiums that have sprung up across Ala Moana Boulevard.

“If you’re bringing in 20 new buildings along this corridor, then you don’t need to take our space. You need to create more spaces for these people,” said resident Salvatore Lanzilotti.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell was unable to attend the meeting. But at least one city official told the gathering that their voices could still be heard in the City Council.

“If there’s something the administration goes forward with that the council doesn’t agree with, they have the opportunity to stop it there,” said Robert Kroning, the city’s director of design and construction.

Kroning said before the meeting that the environmental impact statement process includes taking comments, but normally doesn’t involve public meetings.

However, "we were invited to this. So this isn’t something that we normally don’t necessarily do. But because of the request for us to come and talk we decided if the community wants it, then we’ll come out here and listen to what they have to say.”

Meanwhile, the city is taking comments on the second draft environmental impact statement on the park plans through March 25. To view the EIS or to make a comment, click here.

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