Monday, July 12, 2004

Kailua wish list includes
pedestrian-friendly town

Kailua residents want a more pedestrian-friendly town, according to survey results released last week by the Kaneohe Ranch Co., which manages more than 550 acres of land in the Windward community.

In addition to better sidewalks and pedestrian access, Kailua residents indicated that they would also like to see safer bicycle routes, restaurants with outdoor seating, senior housing and a community center.

The survey, which was funded by Kaneohe Ranch and conducted in April by Ward Research, was designed to get the community's input on how best to continue a town upgrade that has been going on for years.

It was sent to 17,000 Kailua households and returned by 2,832. More than 60 percent of the respondents said a walkable downtown is their No. 1 priority.

Mitch D'Olier, CEO of Kaneohe Ranch, has big plans for the Windward town, but he wants residents to have input.

"We want to engage as many Kailua residents as we can," D'Olier said.

Kaneohe Ranch manages the real estate owned by the family trusts of Harold K.L. Castle and Alice H. Castle and the nonprofit charitable Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. Several leasehold properties will return to the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation Trust within the next five years, presenting more opportunities for development, D'Olier said.

In response to the survey results, D'Olier hired Jim Charlier, a transportation planning expert with the Colorado-based firm Charlier Associates, to assist with planning for pedestrian circulation in downtown Kailua. Charlier spent Thursday and Friday in Kailua photographing sidewalks and talking with pedestrians. Charlier will draw up a plan that will meet Kailua's specific needs, D'Olier said.

D'Olier said the big picture includes changes that will improve on an already great place while maintaining Kailua's small-town qualities.

"It's the best thing Kailua has going for it, and it would be stupid to walk away from that."

D'Olier also said that attracting tourists to Kailua is not a priority, adding that his plan is "designed for the residents of Kailua, not for tourists."

Although details are still unclear, D'Olier's plans do not include large-scale retailers, shopping malls or hotels.

"I've already said no to Wal-Mart, Kmart and Costco," he said.


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