Ever Green

By Lois Taylor

Friday, April 16, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Many Windward residents want to preserve the view plane
to the Koolaus, shown behind Kaneohe Outdoor Circle
members, from left, Kim Ickler, Barbara Sunderland
Duran and Carolyn Heinrich.

Windward keeps
open outlook

Architects call it "a sense of place," an identity of a town or its main street that makes it different, recognizable, desirable. Haleiwa has it, Kaneohe doesn't. But the main street of Kaneohe isn't the reason that Windward residents choose to live there. To find out what the reasons are, and how to preserve and protect them, The Kaneohe Outdoor Circle spent the last five months on a survey. The results were published last week.

The survey was directed by Outdoor Circle member Barbara Sunderland Duran, a retired professional researcher who conducted market and public policy studies in Hawaii for more than 20 years. A team of 10 members, including Kaneohe Outdoor Circle president Carolyn Heinrich and board member Kim Ickler, conducted the survey, largely at Windward Mall.

"We looked for a place where we would find a real cross section of Windward residents," Duran said. "We knew we didn't want to take it to garden clubs where people are focused on environmental issues, we wanted to know what families from all over the Koolaupoko area, from Waimanalo through Kualoa, were thinking. We talked to more than 400 people."

The survey's purpose was not only informational for the residents, but for the various government agencies that are now engaged in planning for Windward Oahu's future.

"Our first idea was to print the survey in the Sun Press and ask residents to mail it back to us," Heinrich said. "But Barbara told us that the only people who would reply would be the environmentalists. Everybody else would ignore it."

So instead they got permission from Windward Mall to randomly ask people the 15 questions of the survey. Several were simply anecdotal: age, sex, length of time in Windward Oahu and the like. But the interesting ones asked which scenic or environmental features in Windward Oahu must be protected, and when guiding first-time visitors to the area, which places are people most anxious to show off, as well as areas to avoid at any cost.

"The ones requiring protection,that score the most votes," Duran said, "were the Pali and Koolau mountains, Kaneohe Bay and the retention of all the remaining open space by prohibiting further development."

People also mentioned saving the view plane from the bay back to the mountains. The high rises and the big warehouses springing up spoil the view, and many said that there should not be further commercial or residential development that interferes with the line of sight to the beaches and bay.

By far, the most popular sites for introducing visitors to the beauty of Windward Oahu were Kailua Beach Park and the Pali Lookout. Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden, Heeia State Park and the drive along the Kamehameha Highway shoreline also received a good share of the votes.

On the down side, residents said they are reluctant to show visitors places that have been badly developed or neglected or subject to pollution or vandalism. The most frequent complaints were made about specific streets, neighborhoods or commercial sites, including all of Kaneohe town, deemed poorly planned, ugly and barren of landscaping.

More specific complaints were the dirty beaches, the widespread graffiti, abandoned cars and roadside litter, which is certainly not unique to Windward Oahu. Happily, though, 30 percent of the respondents said they couldn't think of any Windward area they were ashamed of, and many of them added that it remains the one part of the island that is still green and open.

"More than half of the people who answered the survey named going to the beach with their families as their principle outdoor recreation. They indicated that they use the beach parks for picnics, swimming and general relaxation," Duran said.

"Kailuans are the most avid bikers, probably because they have access to bike paths. You take your life in your hands riding a bike around Kaneohe," Ickler said. "We don't have designated bike paths here. We also need more berthing for small boats on the bay. South Dakota has more berths for boats than the entire state of Hawaii. And Kaneohe is a bayside community with almost no public access to the bay. We need to change that."

The Kaneohe Outdoor Circle's motive in the survey, Heinrich said, was to make residents aware of the problems and to look for solutions.

"We want them to become involved in a development plan, to make themselves heard. We want the city to know we need more parks and recreation activities over here, not only for ourselves but for the number of weekend visitors who use the new H-3 from Honolulu. People choose to live here because Windward Oahu is the last stand on the island of 'country' and yet an easy commute. We need to protect it."

Do It Electric!

Gardening Calendar in Do It Electric!

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