Residents voice concerns over controversial Ala Wai flood mitigation project

Concerned residents sounds off of a controversial plan to save Waikiki from flooding

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds attended a community meeting in Manoa Tuesday to hear from various city, state and federal agencies about a controversial flood risk management project proposed for the Ala Wai.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers said the state Department of Land and Natural Resources asked them in 1998 to conduct a study of the Ala Wai Watershed to see what it would take to prevent a 100-year flood from devastating Waikiki and surrounding areas, which could cost a billion dollars in damage.

Congress has already appropriated about $345 million for the project and Governor David Ige put $125 million in his proposed budget for the project.

The nearly half a billion-dollar federal project would build six debris and detention basins in Palolo, Manoa and Makiki – some as wide as two-thirds it a football field.

“Under the conceptual plan, four properties were identified as being acquired in fee,” said Jeffrey Herzog, the Ala Wai Flood Risk Mitigation Project Manager. “That is not something that we take lightly.”

Critics of the plan came out to the Manoa Valley District Park gymnasium in full force Tuesday evening to voice their concerns about eminent domain.

“Our immediate fear is eviction. They've already started to throw some of those terminologies around in different communities. So, one of our fears is that we will be evicted from our site that we've been a part of rehabilitating for quite some time,” said Imaikalani Winchester.

Winchester is a teacher at Halau Ku Mana, a public charter school located in Makiki.

Herzog said under the current conceptual plan, the four properties that would be acquired in fee are in the Palolo Valley area.

He said homes are located on three of those four properties, the fourth property is privately owned.

There is no target build date yet since the Army Corps is still working out funding.

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