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Monday, May 23, 2005



Residents await look at
modified Ewa Beach wall

Last July, nearly 100 residents clamored into a small auditorium at Ewa Beach Elementary to discuss their concerns -- and vent their anger -- about an 18-foot wall built along Papipi Road that divided an older, mostly lower-middle class community from a new, upscale development.

By this July, after nearly a dozen consultation and mediation meetings between residents and developer Haseko Inc., a remodeled and substantially shorter wall is expected to be unveiled.

And the whole episode, some say, has brought Ewa Beach together.

"We met with Haseko as a community," said Peggy Crowell, who has lived on Papipi Road since 1964 and was one of the first residents to complain about the wall.

"It was a black wall looking at me in the face across the street, and it wasn't a very pretty sight. ... Now we're all extremely pleased. Hallelujah! They're going to get that wall down."

When the work is complete, said Haseko spokeswoman Sharene Saito Tam, a keystone retaining wall dividing Haseko's Ocean Pointe development from the existing community will be about 6 feet tall.

There will be a landscaped slope up to the Haseko homes, and a safety wall at the top. The company is also putting in a sidewalk, trees and a hedge along Papipi Road.

Construction to remodel the wall started last month, but a black dust screen has shielded residents from seeing much progress. Haseko has been keeping residents along Papipi Road updated with newsletters.

And that's enough for Katherine Asis, who moved to Ewa Beach about 20 years ago.

"Now that we're communicating and we understand what's happening," she said, "it's improving the looks of the community."

July's gathering at Ewa Beach Elementary School was ordered by Circuit Judge Victoria Marks, who asked residents and Haseko to resolve the problem out of court after a suit was filed asking for a preliminary injunction against the wall, which would have required that it be demolished.

Two more similar sessions followed. Before that, several residents had met individually or in small groups with Haseko officials to discuss the wall.

In mid-August, Marks ruled that Haseko could continue work on the wall, as long as the community's concerns were incorporated into its new design.

"When we went through the mediation, we actually presented what the revisions would be," Tam said. "At that final mediation, they (residents) did conduct a vote. ... A majority had voted to approve the modification."

Saito-Tam also said the wall's approved design would continue "all the way on down" as new parts of Ocean Pointe are built. She said work is under way to reconfigure still-unbuilt sections to accommodate the new wall design.



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