Proposal to close tiny, problematic urban park draws community concern

Proposal to close tiny, problematic urban park draws community concern
Kamalii Mini Park (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -City Council committee members passed a resolution Tuesday that explores alternatives for Kamalii Mini Park in Downtown Honolulu.

The 0.7-acre park is next to a fire station along Pali Highway, and Fort and S. Beretania streets. The area was designated as a park for 35 years, but that designation lapsed, according to the city.

Council members say the park is underused, plagued with homeless campers, and overridden with drug activity. City officials have been trying to address the issue with clean-ups — a short-term fix — but they hope that Resolution 19-250 will lead to a permanent fix.

The plan would involve removing Kamalii Mini Park from of the city’s park inventory and instead, explore other alternatives. One option is to transfer the lot to the Honolulu Fire Department.

“We think there’s a lot of potential, especially to possibly to improve our fire facilities and continue with improved maintenance of the area,” said HFD Assistant Chief Socrates Bratakos.

The fire department did not provide any specific details on plans for the space. Concerned community members say the city is failing to address the underlying issue.

“We’re seeing this sort of pattern across the city where we don’t have enough resources for our parks and so therefore, the answer is to close them early to sort of shut all people off from using a park, rather than use this opportunity to make this particular plot a showcase,” said Winston Welch, Executive Director of the Outdoor Circle.

Welch says he’d like to see the area transformed into an oasis.

“Maybe it becomes an open market, maybe the design gets redone. I don’t know, but just step to look at this and rather than closing the park. Let’s make it a beautiful park and a beautiful public space as it intended to be,” he said.

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