A popular Oahu gathering spot could soon get an inclusive children’s playground

A popular Oahu gathering spot could soon get an inclusive children’s playground
A city council committee advanced a resolution asking the administration to consider alternate sites for a new playground to serve the Kakaako area. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Opponents of a new playground slated for Ala Moana Park are trying to convince the city to switch to a different site.

They received a boost from a key council committee on Tuesday.

Members of the Committee on Parks, Community Services and Intergovernmental Affairs advanced a resolution that asks the city administration to provide alternate sites for a playground serving the Kakaako area.

“Ala Moana Park is a special park. It is the lungs of the city. It was designed with open space in mind many decades ago,” said Winson Welch, executive director of The Outdoor Circle.

The current plan calls for a one-acre inclusive playground for children of all abilities.

Opponents, however, object to the loss of green space and worry about the future impacts of sea level rise.

“We just want to have other alternatives considered, perhaps the size considered, perhaps the place considered. We’re not against playgrounds for children,” said Shar Chun-Lam of the Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui.

Another potential site that has been discussed is Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The state intends to transfer the property, along with others in the area, to the city.

"I think we have concerns about it because it is a landfill and we don't know how much we can dig into in the ground for that area," said Michele Nekota, the city's parks and recreation director.

The group Paani Kakou plans to raise community donations to pay for the Ala Moana Park playground.

The design hasn’t been finalized, but the price tag is estimated to be between $2.5 to $3 million.

The group's executive director said if the playground is built at Kakaako Waterfront Park, safety concerns may keep families away.

"Just a few unpredictable people in a space would be enough to dissuade that family from reactivating the playground, and that's how we may end up with a playground that's beautiful but unused, vulnerable to being overtaken and vandalized," said Tiffany Vierra.

Project opponents are holding a rally on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon behind the Diamond Head L&L concession stand.

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