Controversial Waimanalo park project plan moving forward ... but not completely

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 5:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents in Waimanalo are divided over what is aimed to be a compromise between the community and the city.

At Waimanalo’s Neighborhood Board meeting Monday night, the city said phase one of the master plan to redevelop Waimanalo Bay Beach Park — also known as Sherwoods — would continue, but not how it was originally planned.

Managing Director Roy Amemiya said there would still be an open field, but the city is looking to the Waimanalo community to figure out what the best use is for that space.

“Bringing in a lot of soil, putting in irrigation, planting grass, native Hawaiian trees, perhaps kalo and converting Waimanalo Bay Beach Park into a cultural and historical park,” Amemiya said.

Amemiya said the city agreed to eliminate the play apparatus, but would still include a parking lot.

“We’re gonna keep it about the same size but add more handicap stalls for kupuna as well as allow buses to come in from one entrance and move through an exit so that school buses with keiki will come to the cultural park and learn about the significance of that place,” he said.

[Read more: Opponents of controversial Waimanalo development claim project has been scrapped]

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[Read more: City pledges to press forward with controversial Waimanalo park project despite arrests]

In addition, the city has agreed to change the name of the park to Hunananiho to reflect the cultural heritage.

President of the group “Save Our Sherwoods” says the new plan is a result of five meetings with the mayor since October.

“This is a result of many months of community opposition to any development there,” said Kuike Kamakea-Ohelo. “And quite frankly, this is the compromise. They city and county asked for a bare minimal so they can walk away with clean hands and stop the development of that space and the sports field, and sports complex that would come up.”

In September, 28 people were arrested for blocking construction equipment and crews from accessing the park.

Some community members are still not satisfied with the compromise.

“Just remember that we’re building on a graveyard,” Waimanalo resident Mialisa Otis said. “And in the beginning we used to stand together in transparency not wanting anything to be in Sherwoods.”

“I want the park. I’m representing a little group in our community that’s been wanting this park,” athletic coach Sione Tuifua said.

The city said it is still working to finalize the two draft resolutions, then it will be sent to the City Council.

The city said it is hoping plans for that portion of phase one will continue some time in February.

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