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Manoa Neighborhood Board supports public acquisition of Paradise Park land

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 10:07 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 10:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Manoa Neighborhood Board voted Wednesday to support the public acquisition of Paradise Park land that’s up for sale.

According to the listing, the 76-acre site is selling for $20 million.

Original language wanted the park to be purchased for conservation, education, and recreation.

Eventually, amendments stripped it down to strictly non-commercial activity, with no provision for recreational activity.

“Ultimately, it’s really about noise and traffic for most residents,” said Dylan Armstrong, the Manoa Neighborhood Board chair. “Those are the concerns that have come up the most repeatedly and consistently over the years.”

While it’s not clear what the recommendation will mean for the future of the park, community members wanted conservation to be a priority.

”Because the land is currently privately owned, the owners do have options,” Armstrong said. “But this is about looking forward to the best case, win-win scenario for everybody.”

Armstrong said he hopes federal funds will be available for the purchase and maintenance of the lands.

State Rep. Kobayashi knows the history of Paradise Park well. He fought for the conservation of that area.

“I grew up in the shadow of the park,” he said. “We moved here in 1965. Traffic, noise, pollution, the streams, a lot of issues came up about it.”

Kobayashi said for folks who live there, it’s a one-sided issue: No big developments.

“Fifty years of community opposition to large scale development, I don’t think Disney Company is going to want to come in and try to do a theme park thing because they know what’s going to happen,” Kobayashi said. “So it’s very clear cut what the valley sentiment has been.”

Paradise Park in Manoa closed nearly 30 years ago.

It opened in the late 1960s, attracting busloads of school kids and tourists to see the exotic birds and gardens, and later a dinosaur exhibit and mazes.

The park closed in January 1994. From 2004 to 2007, it was the home of Halau Ku Mana, a public charter school.

In 2014, plans emerged to turn the park into a cultural center.

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