More than a hundred turn out to support lawsuit to stop controversial park development in Waimanalo

Updated: Sep. 28, 2019 at 3:49 PM HST
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WAIMANALO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Protesters lined the entrance to Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, also known as “Sherwood Forest,” Saturday morning. But unlike what happened on Thursday, they didn’t block the entrance.

However, what happened then appears to have galvanized opponents of a master plan for an athletic complex.

The first phase of the plan involves a multipurpose playing field, set for completion in November. Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said he won’t proceed with the rest of the project. But the lawsuit, filed Thursday, calls for a complete halt to make sure it doesn’t happen.

“The city has ruined Waikiki. They have ruined Hanauma Bay. They tried to get the Ka Iwi coast, but you stopped them. And now they’re coming for Waimanalo, and we’re going to stop them,” said Maureen Harnisch, one of the five plaintiffs who filed suit against the city.

“This project is not essential to the livelihood of this community. It is not needed by the sports community, and is not wanted by the people of Waimanalo,” said another plaintiff, Archibald Kaolulo. His remarks were met by cheers from more than a hundred people who turned out to hear more about the lawsuit Saturday.

The lawsuit claims, among other things, that the city didn’t follow federal land use controls and violated historic preservation laws.

“The environmental assessment, the community engagement, has been inadequate, and many of the statements they have made are inaccurate, false,” said attorney Tim Vandeveer.

A spokesman for the city said it doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits. However, he pointed out that the first phase makes up just five percent of the total project.

The city also said no iwi kupuna, or ancestral remains, have been found at that particular site.

But an archaeologist who found remains in other parts of the area said Waimanalo is historically significant.

“There’s a long history,” said Dr. Patrick Kirch, who examined another area near the Waimanalo Stream in the 1970′s. “We know there are iwi kupuna in various areas, and we have to be very cautious whenever any project is undertaken. We have to go the extra mile, I would say, on this.”

The discussion about the lawsuit drew many who may have been spurred to action after 28 were arrested on Thursday.

“I believe it galvanized our effort,” said Kuike Kamakea-Ohelo, president of the group Save Our Sherwoods.

Those efforts may become even more visible in the days to come.

“Understand that we are doing this to protect our history, our past, as well as our future,” ssaid Kamakaea-Ohelo.

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