Community seeks to tear down park restroom to curb crime

Community seeks to tear down park restroom that's become haven for crime
Published: Apr. 29, 2016 at 9:41 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 30, 2016 at 1:07 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents want to tear down a Downtown Honolulu park bathroom to combat a recent increase in crime.

Kamamalu Park is rarely used for recreation, residents say, but is a popular hangout for drug users and prostitutes.

On Friday, one woman sits in the far corner of the park. Tents crowd the entrance to the restrooms.

The park is situated between two schools, and has recently drawn in influx of drug users.

"There is drug use, prostitution. And what happens in that park bathroom spills over into the entire community," said Randal Ikeda, executive director of the nearby YMCA-Nuuanu.

Ikeda is a member of the Kamamalu Park Community Group, and for the past year has been working with the city Department of Parks and Recreation on a plan to revitalize the space.

The privately-funded project wouldn't start for at least a year.

In the meantime, Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga is ready to chip in $50,000 in taxpayer money to kickstart renovations. The money would primarily fund the teardown of the park's restrooms.

"If we're looking to relocate the restroom to a different area of the park, then to me the simplest route is to demolish it as quickly as possible so that it helps speed up all the other efforts we have to really improve and beatify the park," Fukunaga said.

Keoni Lopez has lived at the park since 2011, and says if the bathroom is torn down he won't have any place to go.

"If I had a choice I would live with my family," he said. "But we have no choice. This is where we stay."

Ikeda, though, said the bathroom has become a safety threat.

"The public is not willing to use the bathroom. The sooner we can abate that the safer the overall park would be," he said.

City Council members are expected to make a decision on Fukunaga's proposal next month.

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