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Our Town: What's behind those bricks?

The Date Street Mini Park Pumping Station.


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It's hidden in plain sight, really, right by one of the busiest intersections in Honolulu: a mysterious building sitting in the tiny triangle of grass that is the Date Street Mini Park, on the corner of Date and Kapi'olani. It looks almost like a small church, or a Territory-era municipal office, but it's actually an old wastewater pumping station.

photo: Rae Huo

Tim Houghton, executive assistant at the Department of Environmental Services, says that the station was built in 1934, although the original architect is no longer known. It was decommissioned in 1967, and its management transferred to the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, which bricked over all the doors and windows for safety reasons.

What's in there now, sealed in the darkness? Not much, says Toni Robinson, the department's East Honolulu district manager. "Decades ago, I saw inside. Basically, it was a pumping station, and so it's just a big hole down there, with pumps and gears. There's nothing else in there."

In the early '90s, some Mo'ili'ili community members campaigned to demolish the obscure building, to make more room for the mini park's playground, but were blocked by the city Department of Environmental Services. "We were in the process of doing a facility plan, and weren't sure yet whether we would need to reactivate it," Houghton says.

Today, though, the Department of Parks and Recreation is free to do whatever it would like with the pumping station. "In that subsequent facility plan, there is no requirement to reactivate it. It's not a necessary item," Houghton says.

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Honolulu Magazine May 2017
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