Support for an inclusive playground is there. But where should it be built?

Published: Oct. 27, 2019 at 11:16 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens on both sides of the controversy over a proposed, privately funded playground at Ala Moana Park attended a rally at the park today.

Opponents said the playground will take away much need open space from the public. They’re supporting a city resolution to relocate it to Kakaako.

But supporters said the playground -- which would be paid for by nearly $3 million raised from private sources -- would be the first to be designed for disabled children. They said moving it will cause years of delays.

“She is going to be in high school or college if that park goes to Kakaako,” said Julia Dinius, whose ten-year-old daughter is wheelchair-bound.

“The big thing about having an inclusive playground is she can play with others ... and make friends easily.”

But City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi, who supports the resolution to relocate the playground, said Kakaako is the better location.

“All along, the users of Ala Moana Regional Park have been in full support of an inclusive park but just not here at this park which was historically constructed as a lei of green in the middle of urban Honolulu,” she said.

Some opponents believe the playground is being built for the benefit of the developers of the Park Lane condominium complex across the street.

State business registrations records show that most of the officers of the company that’s going to build playground -- Paani Kakou -- are affiliated with the developers of the Park Lane luxury condos across the street.

“It seems like they’re just building this for the developer so they can say they have this across the street," said Hawaii Kai resident Natalie Iwasa.

But Paani Kakou denies the allegation.

“This is going to be a community project,” said Tiffany Vara, the company’s executive director.

“This will be a community gift to the city.”

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