No Walk in the Park: 3 Honolulu Projects Making Headlines Right Now

Even playgrounds and parks can spark protests.
park rendering
rendering: courtesy of design partners inc.


Pa‘ani Kākou Playground

Location: Ala Moana Regional Park

Idea pitched: Pa‘ani Kākou, a private nonprofit, is planning a playground (rendering above) with a splash pad, zip lines, accessible activities and quiet spaces for children with disabilities. It was proposed to the Ala Moana Neighborhood Board in December 2018, inspired by a differently abled child’s request to Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i.

What’s the issue? The idea of building on an acre of green space with a splash pad in the beachfront park has some people up in arms. Opponents don’t want to lose a chunk of Ala Moana Regional Park to development. Supporters say the park would allow broad access.

Status: A second environmental impact statement is in progress. A construction start date has not been set.


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Centennial Park Landscape Plan


Centennial Park

Location: 425 Royal Hawaiian Ave., Waikīkī

Idea pitched: Waikīkī residents lobbied for the city to build a park on an empty lot back in 1997. Nineteen years later, a public-private partnership between the city and the Rotary Club of Honolulu finally moved it forward.

What’s the issue? The official agreement was signed in 2016. But then debate over the location of a Hawaiian Electric switching station in the park, budget juggling and an archaeological survey put it on pause. Groundbreaking finally happened in July.

Status: Construction is moving forward and Rotary hopes the park will open by its 2020 international convention in June.


SEE ALSO: Field Notes: This Little Park Below Diamond Head Road is a Hidden Outdoor Gem


Waimānalo Bay Beach Park Phase 1

Location: 41-1062 Kalaniana‘ole Highway, Waimānalo

Idea pitched: The idea to build sports fields at Sherwood Forest was first floated a decade ago. The plan changed to include cabins, trails, more than double the parking stalls and a keiki play area.

What’s the issue? Bulldozing sparked big protests from surprised residents. Community opponents say the city should repair and maintain existing nearby parks before building a new one. City officials say they had community support for the project—10 years ago. Fires intentionally set to construction equipment earlier this year and frequent protests along the highway suggest outrage.

Status: Phase 1 construction, including one field, a playground and 11 parking spaces, will continue, says Mayor Kirk Caldwell. But after 28 protester arrests, he says he won’t move forward on future phases. Stay tuned.