Some worry plans for Kewalo cultural center could clog up park space

Some worry plans for Kewalo cultural center could clog up park space
Published: Aug. 2, 2017 at 3:03 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2017 at 6:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A nonprofit wants turn a former fishing shed at Kewalo Basin into a cultural and educational center. Some like the idea, but others say it will increase area congestion and interfere with plans to expand the waterfront park.

The Net Shed Facility was once known as "the dead end" of the Kakaako harbor because it was a haven for the homeless and a magnet for crime.

Since 2010, the nonprofit organization Kupu has leased the property on a month-to-month basis for its youth conservation and education programs.

Backed by broad support in the community, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) gave Kupu approval to negotiate a long term lease -- up to 35 years -- so it can build a Green Jobs Training and Community Center.

The new center will include classroom and workshop space, public meeting rooms, exhibit space for local artists and a commercial kitchen. It's all to support Kupu's programs that has helped over 3,000 youth in Hawaii.

But Michelle Matson, of the Oahu Island Parks Conservancy, said that land should remain open space.

"A park expansion is zoned for that area, and this would be taking an expanded park away from a growing population in Kakaako," said Matson.

We spoke several park users, who also worry about the added congestion.

"I can guarantee you that it will push the parking out. It's already pretty congested with parking," said downtown resident Brian Kauhane.

But others said Kupu is an asset in the Kakaako community.

"I think it's a great cause," said Mason Schremmer of Ewa Beach. "I think they've been doing some beach clean ups around here which has been really nice."

The HCDA will discuss details with stakeholders before finalizing the lease deal.

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