Resort’s plan counters residents’ perspective
The Turtle Bay resort will be enlarged to include five more hotels and condominiums.
A SWEEPING hotel resort-residential development on Oahu's North Shore undoubtedly will bring major changes at a time when residents and community groups have been working hard to maintain a rural atmosphere in the region.
The plan for five new hotels and as many as 1,000 condominium units at Turtle Bay and secluded Kawela Bay seems to run counter to recent successful efforts to preserve Waimea Valley and the Pupukea highlands.
The huge development encompassing 880 shoreline acres faces few obstacles, save for standard city permits and compliance with public facilities requirements. However, community acceptance and traffic concerns are challenges that need resolution.
The project was approved in 1986 in an agreement that involved the city, the state and the North Shore community, but the then-owners of the existing resort never moved it forward due to financial problems. The property's new owners now hope to complete the expansion, which will include four public parks, in the next few years.
Key to the project is a way to mitigate traffic. During the winter, the North Shore's waves and surf contests attract thousands, causing congestion on Kamehameha Highway, but even summer months see bumper-to-bumper traffic along the two-lane road.
The agreement requires road improvements such as turning lanes, bus turnouts and traffic signals. It also requires minimizing automobile use by hotel guests, suggesting shuttle service from the airport, Waikiki and other tourist destinations, and transportation for employees.
More ticklish, however, is getting community support. Many North Shore residents are wary of the effects the resort expansion will have on the environment, natural resources and lifestyle.
When the plans were approved, residents' concerns were keenly focused on the loss of jobs as sugar plantations shuttered operations, but two decades have shifted sensibilities. As other parts of Oahu have been built up, the North Shore's rural qualities have gained value. The trade off today is more costly.
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