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Friday, May 7, 1999



Community groups
want to get historic
railway back on track

Plans include creating hiking
and biking trails along the
entire route and marking
points of interest

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Gary Okino recalls when he used to catch the Oahu Railway and Land Co. train from Aala Park to Haleiwa.

The family would pack a picnic basket for the ride to the country, Okino said. "It used to be like a weekend excursion."

Okino, an Aiea resident and city planner, and others in the Pearl City-Aiea and Waipahu visioning teams want to bring back at least some of that experience by restoring what they call the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail.

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Residents from the three communities are being asked to attend a workshop on the plans at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Aiea High School cafeteria. Visioning teams have been picked by Mayor Jeremy Harris in various communities to help plan the project.

While the actual line stretched all the way to Kahuku, the team is focusing on the section between the Arizona Memorial and Ko Olina Resort, a distance of about 16 miles.

"We want to open up the shoreline so we don't have to go all the way to Ala Moana or the North Shore to enjoy the water," said Claire Tamamoto, president of the Aiea Community Association.

But the goal is to try to attract both visitors and locals, she said.

"Tourists go to the Arizona Memorial and the (USS) Missouri, and then they go back to Waikiki," she said. "We want to show them that there are other things we can offer them along the Leeward Coast."

Dr. Ken Uejo of Pearl City said overgrown mangrove and hau bush, besides making parts of the trail difficult to traverse, block views of the harbor.

"If we can get a better view of the water, it will be a better place for recreation and become a tourism attraction," he said.

Plans include creating hiking and biking trails along the entire route, and identifying and marking points of interest, including a fishpond, historical center and a seaport village.

Down the line, the group would like to see the railway re-created along the entire trail from the memorial to Ko Olina.

Currently, the Hawaiian Railway Society runs a restored train from Ewa Villages to Ko Olina. The group recently received a federal grant that would extend the route to Waipahu.

Okino said community leaders are hoping the project will help galvanize the Leeward communities.

Darrlyn Bunda, president of the Waipahu Business Association, said, "It would be neat to connect us all together."

And like the Aiea and Pearl City communities, Bunda said, "we want to open up the waterfront, too."

Okino said the best part about restoring the trail is that there are a number of federal grants designed to aid improvement of historic trails, making the project a financially realistic target.

The team is seeking $200,000 for planning and design from the city.



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