Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Residents oppose
plan for Ala Wai

About 100 residents let city officials know last night that they oppose plans to "beautify" Ala Wai Boulevard next month, criticizing continual road construction in Waikiki and the loss of 60 to 70 parking places.

City & County of Honolulu "I'm absolutely dead against it," said Diane Tippett, who lives on Kuhio Avenue. "They are dead bang wrong."

City Planning and Permitting Director Eric Crispin gave a presentation at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting at Waikiki Community Center about the $2.4 million project to renovate Ala Wai with a bike path and landscaped hubs.

He said the plan will make Waikiki more livable and safer for bicyclists and will ease traffic.

Many residents waited to hear the specifics about the Ala Wai plan, which was not released at earlier neighborhood board meetings.

Audience members applauded as person after person stood up saying how the reduced number of parking stalls will negatively affect Waikiki.

"I think it's crazy how they are taking away valuable parking spaces," said Waikiki resident Jacqueline Trinh, 23, who came just to hear about the project. "It's not necessary and it causes a lot of headaches among the residents."

Residents were concerned about the traffic woes the construction would cause, particularly because it overlaps with construction along Kuhio Avenue that began in February.

Bill Haole, 50, said his patience is being taxed with the Kuhio project already, but to add more construction is "going to kill us," and noted that the construction seems never-ending in Waikiki.

"All this is supposed to answer the problems to our traffic congestion. It doesn't," Haole said.

The projects are part of the city's Waikiki beautification plan, but some said Waikiki was beautiful before the construction and called it unnecessary.

"There's nothing beautiful in the construction process," Haole said.

The plan includes adding trees to the boulevard as part of making Waikiki greener.

"What do trees do? They block the view," Tippett said.

Crews will narrow the parking spaces to about 7 feet to accommodate a new 5-foot-wide bike path, which some say will be useful, but not practical.

"I hardly see bicycles," Trinh said. "They can ride along the canal where the cars aren't instead of taking away the stalls."

Resident Sharon Chun said she was worried about safety. In previous neighborhood board minutes, representatives from the Honolulu Fire Department said their response time has been longer because of construction. "If we ignore that, we're the people who is going to be hurt," she said.

City & County of Honolulu


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