Caldwell cancels much-debated development project for Waimanalo park

Members of "Save Our Sherwoods" say it's a huge win
Members of "Save Our Sherwoods" say it's a huge win(Hawaii News Now/file)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2020 at 9:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of debate, months of protesting and dozens of arrests, the group “Save Our Sherwoods” is declaring victory.

The controversial development planned for Waimanalo has been canceled.

Members of "Save Our Sherwoods" say this is a huge win.

"It's an amazing feeling and I'm just so happy to be a part of it," said Waimanalo resident Kukana Kama-Toth.

Opponents of a development planned for Waimanalo say their work has paid off after Honolulu's mayor pulled the plug on the project.

The city had originally planned for an athletic field, playground, and parking lot for the Waimanalo community.

It was later scaled back to just an open field after the development was met with much opposition.

Last year, dozens of people were arrested for blocking construction crews and equipment.

Earlier this year, a human bone was discovered prompting more protests in the middle of a pandemic.

“It broke my heart watching the arrests, it broke my heart watching the protests,” said Kirk Caldwell. “Came to the conclusion that the best approach at this point is to return the property, the land, the aina back to what it was and let the community come together and figure out what they want to do.”

Caldwell said this can serve as a model for other controversial projects around the island and around the state.

“I think much good will come out of this. In fact, I think maybe we had to go through all of this to have a resolution and a way forward that is better and it could be a model for other projects, not just on this island, but around the state,” Caldwell said.

Kupuna in the area who long advocated for a new field say their fight isn't over.

“We feel that there’s a need for it,” said Long-time Waimanalo resident Mabel Keliihoomalu.

Keliihoomalu has been working on this project for over a decade

She says just because the city is no longer involved, doesn't mean they have given up.

“We’re still holding firm to what we have started in the beginning. All we’re asking for is that they put grass. That’s all. Grass. Some parking stalls. That’s all we’re asking for and upgrade the two bathrooms,” Keliihoomalu said. “I don’t think the whole community had a voice. There was a small fraction that overpowered everybody.”

Project opponents feel the city should fix the fields that already exist.

"There have been developments in our community and they just needed to be up kept. And that has been our message from the beginning, to maintain what is already there instead of building something new," Kama-Toth said.

Caldwell says there is now $1.2 million dollars in the city budget to repair Azevedo Field at Waimanalo District Park.

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