HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A number of community groups protested the mayor’s seventh State of the City address Thursday, including opponents of a large new park planned for Waimanalo.
"The community is fed up. It's really a bunch of us gathering to say 'nuff already,'" said Kuike Kamakea-Ohelo, president of Save Our Sherwoods.
Kamakea-Ohelo says he’s frustrated that Caldwell is still moving forward with Phase 1 of the Waimanalo Bay Beach Park Master Plan, which includes a multi-purpose sports field and parking lot.
While not all residents are opposed to the project, many in the community have voiced their concerns about potential impacts to environmental and cultural sites, as well as traffic congestion.
“The mayor said (Wednesday) that he didn’t want to give in to a group of protesters because then he’d have to give in to all the other protesters,” said Maureen Harnisch, who opposes the project.
“This is not about that. This is a bad plan.”
Kamakea-Ohelo says the city should spend its money fixing up the fields at Waimanalo District Park just down the road.
"The parks have been neglected and that's (the Sherwood's) project's future. So for Waimanalo, it's enough already. Fix what we have first. Show us that you can be a suitable steward to the public trust, to our aina," said Kamakea-Ohelo.
At a City Council committee hearing Wednesday, officials with the Department of Parks and Recreation said the Azevedo fields at Waimanalo District Park have been a problem for years because of the clay-like soil.
“It moves, it cracks so it becomes unsafe and unplayable in areas,” said Jeanne Ishikawa, deputy director of the Parks Department. “(It’s) to a point where we recently had the AYSO saying they can’t play there anymore because its so uneven.”
The head of the Kailua-Waimanalo AYSO says the fields have too many cracks and crevices.
With 22 games there every Saturday from late August to early November, the organization says it’s worried about where the kids will play if nothing is done.
Ishikawa estimates it would cost around $10 million to repair the old fields, but says it's not a guaranteed fix.
"If we did do an improvement project, there's no guarantee that it would remain constant. The possibility existed that it could still have that clay-like texture to it," Ishikawa said.
Three council members ― including Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents the district and has played a major role in Waimanalo’s master plan ― have sent letters to Caldwell asking him to halt the project.