City hopes 'sponsorship' law will bring in new cash to maintain, overhaul facilities

Honolulu mayor signs new law allowing sponsorship of city-owned property
Published: May. 12, 2017 at 9:33 PM HST|Updated: May. 13, 2017 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city will soon be getting an influx of cash to pay for repair projects at parks, buildings and other island institutions thanks to a controversial bill signed into law Friday.

The new order allows both individuals and businesses to "sponsor" city property, including parks, actual buildings, social programs and equipment.

In return, the sponsors will be allowed to be recognized through signage and plaques at corresponding properties.

The Rotary Club of Honolulu, for example, plans to transform a patch of land in Waikiki, at the corner of Aloha Drive and Seaside Avenue, into an oasis of greenery that will be named Centennial Park.

To raise the $550,000 needed for the project, the club says it plans to engrave the names of donors into 10 boulders placed throughout the proposed park.

"The first 100 people that give us $1,000, we're going to call them founders," said Dave Benson, of the Rotary Club of Honolulu.

City officials say the new sources of money will allow it to deliver new services and better maintain city assets.

"This is going to get rid of all the red tape that says you can't do that, you can't do this, you can't be part of giving to the city and to the fellow taxpayers, who have had enough of giving themselves," said Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who authored the bill.

Leeward Coast residents are hoping to use the program to take over delayed gym repairs at the Waianae District Park.

Critics, however, fear the plaques and signage will be a huge blight on paradise.

"Everybody wants money, it's very tight right now, but we don't need to sell Hawaii's natural beauty for that and embroil the city in a costly lawsuit which ultimately, we believe, would fail on their part," said Winston Welch, executive director of The Outdoor Circle.

The Outdoor Circle has threatened legal action if state signage laws are violated. The group is working with city officials on another bill that would set restrictions on sponsorship signage.

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