A new project could reshape the streets of historic Haleiwa, but concerns linger

Updated: Oct. 10, 2017 at 10:36 PM HST
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HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A multi-million dollar upgrade is in the works for historic Haleiwa.

During a meeting Tuesday, residents weighed in on the city's long-awaited plan to add walkways and other improvements to the town's commercial hub.

Visitors often face a challenge walking along Kamehameha Highway through the town's main business district since there are no public sidewalks.

Under the plan, the city wants to install walkways along a roughly one-mile stretch between the Anahulu River Bridge and the Opaeula Stream Bridge.

The city awarded a $2.3 million contract to R.M. Towill Corporation in 2014 to develop an environmental impact statement and begin design work for the Haleiwa Improvement District project.

"It's going to be wonderful for the town. It's a safety issue for people in wheelchairs and the tourists walking out on the street," said George Atkins, owner of Haleiwa Art Gallery.

The project also includes adding landscaping and moving utilities underground.

One major concern about the project, however, is the loss of street-front parking for businesses.

"We really need much more parking in Haleiwa. There have been offers of ways to add parking," said Bill Quinlan, chair of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. "The Chamber is working with different property owners. I can't say anything now, but we are working with them to try to get another 100 or 200 parking spaces."

Another sensitive subject is the shared cost since the project area has been designated as an improvement district.

Roughly 50 landowners would be affected, including residents and even Kamehameha Schools. The cost of the improvements would be split between the landowners and the city.

The utility companies would share a part of the estimated $14.2 million cost to move the utilities. The complicated project is still in its early stages so the exact split between the parties is not yet known.

Three project alternatives are being developed. They range in price from $12.6 million to $29.3 million, excluding land acquisition and other costs.

"The idea that somehow or another I'm fiscally responsible for the town infrastructure to capacitate millions of visitors, it doesn't make sense to me," said Haleiwa resident Jennifer Homcy.

The feedback from community members, landowners and other stakeholders will be considered in the preparation of the draft environmental impact statement. Comments are due by October 23.

"We want it to work and if it's not going to work economically for those of you that have to bear it then there will have to be a different calculation," said Jim Niermann, planning project coordinator for R.M. Towill Corporation.

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