Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Friends of Iolani Palace, the nonprofit group that operates the
museum, asked that the state close palace grounds from 11 p.m.
to 6 a.m. to combat a growing problem with vagrancy. If its
request is approved, groups who want to hold vigils or events,
like the group gathered here in 1996, may still be allowed to
do so at night with a state permit.

Palace group
wants night closure

Friends of Iolani Palace say
vagrancy and late-night visitors
becoming a problem

By Diana Leone

One too many people have tried to go up the steps of Iolani Palace in the wee hours of the morning, tripping the museum's alarm system.

So, Friends of Iolani Palace, the nonprofit group that operates the museum, is asking the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to close the palace grounds from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"This would allow palace security to deal with vagrancy," said Alice Guild, Friends of Iolani Palace executive director. "We've been experiencing more and more homeless people moving into palace grounds at night. And some people drive through at night and park. ... We want to protect the palace and its resources."

Guild noted that Iolani Palace is a state park, and other state parks are closed at night.

The palace's security committee recorded 142 alarms in calendar year 2000, and the problem has continued this year, Guild said. She would not say how many of those times police responded to the alarms.

Honolulu Police Maj. Michael Tucker, who supervises patrol officers in the downtown district, said the police would play a backup role to state Public Safety officers, since the palace is on state land.

A deputy sheriff with the state Department of Public Safety, who would not give his name, confirmed that Iolani Palace's security guards do contact public safety officers, but had no record of the frequency.

The deputy said: "It has been a problem in the past on the midnight shift. Sometimes a cat sets it (the alarm) off. But if they call us, we respond, manpower permitting. Sometimes when we get there, it's someone trying to sleep. We explain the situation, why we came and ask them nicely to move on. It's usually not a problem."

The 30-member Friends of Iolani Palace board of directors voted unanimously to seek the night closure, Guild said. The Land Board will hear the Friends' request at its meeting at 9 a.m. Friday in the Kalanimoku Building, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 132.

Guild emphasized that any groups, such as Hawaiian groups, that want to hold vigils or night events on the grounds could continue to do so if they got a permit from the state.

"If the Land Board approves the closure," Guild said, "the next step would be to meet with groups that traditionally use the palace grounds, to be sure we're all on the same page."

After about a month of posted notices, the existing gates would be closed at 11 p.m., and temporary barriers would be placed at entrances without gates. Options could include a chain, with a sign noting the hours, Guild said

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