JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
State Rep. Bev Harbin spoke yesterday morning with members of the Friends of Kewalo Basin Association about opposition to the $650 million Kakaako Waterfront redevelopment project.
Kewalo plan draws opposition
A group that includes frequent surfers assails the proposed retail redevelopment of 65 acres
At a tent at Kewalo Basin park, Aiea resident Sarah Wahilani stared at renderings for the Kakaako waterfront redevelopment project, which showed the future site of restaurants, retail stores and residential towers.
Meetings To Get More Information
» A group of bodysurfers called Ka Hui O Malama Kakaako Paka (The Group that Protects Kakaako) has scheduled a meeting at Kakaako Waterfront Park on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. to discuss the Kakaako waterfront redevelopment project.
» Members of the Kakaako Neighborhood Board will discuss the Kakaako project during their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at Makiki Christian Church.
"Just looking at the plans is heart-wrenching," said Wahilani, who has been surfing off Point Panic at the park for years. "If the development happens, what happens to our surf area?" she asked. "They're (developers) taking so much already."
She was among 100 members of the Friends of Kewalo Basin Park Association who attended a meeting at the park yesterday to discuss their opposition to the $650 million redevelopment project, which is slated to be built by A&B Properties, Inc.
Many flocked to the side of the tent to look at the plans and to sign letters to their representatives.
Ron Iwami, president of the park association, which has membership of an estimated 1,000 people, said the development will only push out the local people who frequent the area. "The mana of the park will not be the same," Iwami said.
For the past 35 years, Iwami said he has been surfing, fishing and diving at the park. Further commercialization is not needed, he said.
"That's enough already," Iwami said. "Keep it a park."
"It's becoming a rare commodity to have ocean-front parks," he said.
A&B Properties was selected by the Hawaii Community Development Authority to redevelop 65 acres of state-owned land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard, next to Kewalo Basin. The project will include retail stores, restaurants, three 20-story residential towers and a pedestrian bridge.
Some members of the association have already testified against the project at a meeting held by the agency in September. Members also voiced their opposition at recent neighborhood board meetings. Iwami said he and other members plan to meet with A&B Properties' Chief Executive Stanley Kuriyama.
In a written statement, officials of A&B Properties said, "We are very aware that this group of park users has concerns and we would like to be able to tell them directly about our proposed plans and to immediately respond to their questions and concerns.
"We have already assured other park users that free and ample parking will be provided to recreational users of the project, that surfing conditions will not be altered, that public access to the ocean will be maintained and that the project in fact welcomes their continued presence."
Daniel Dinell, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, also issued a written statement yesterday that stressed that "Kewalo Basin Park is not part of the development area."
"The authority was successful in building the park, restrooms and amenities enjoyed today. These will remain in the future. Of particular import, is that the existing free public parking will be maintained. In fact, the plan is to provide more parking and public access as the project's goal is to welcome and encourage people to enjoy Kakaako and the parts of waterfront now inaccessible," Dinell said.
House Speaker Rep. Calvin Say, Councilman Rod Tam and Rep. Bev Harbin, who represents Kakaako, spoke at the meeting yesterday.
Harbin, who has been involved in the Kakaako Improvement Association, said the association unanimously voted in 1999 for no residential structures on the makai side of Ala Moana Boulevard on state-owned land. That has not changed, Harbin said.