JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Charvis Ka'apa, right, was among the dozens who helped during a beach and waterfront cleanup organized by the Friends of Kewalo Basin Park Association yesterday at Kewalo Basin Park. The Association organized the cleanup to improve the park, which is 17 years old this year, after a fight to keep it free of residential development a year ago.
Inspired volunteers clean park
A group removes trash at Kewalo Basin Park a year after saving it from development
A group that fought development of Kewalo Basin Park spent yesterday cleaning the area and vowed to stay involved in making it a place that everyone can enjoy.
"We fought so hard to protect it, so we're showing that we are serious about it," said Ron Iwami, president of the Friends of Kewalo Basin Park Association. "We're not just going to walk away."
More than 60 people helped in the cleanup, which came about a year after the group successfully lobbied against the sale and development of land near the park.
The Kakaako Makai Advisory Working Group will meet tomorrow to discuss its organizational structure. The meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the John A. Burns School of Medicine Room 301 is open to the public.
A grassroots movement started in 2005 to block the state's plan of selling the land to Alexander & Baldwin to build high-rise condominiums. The groups held protests and marched on the State Capitol.
Last year a law passed prohibiting the residential development or selling of the land. Since then Iwami continues to work with the state in an advisory working group within the Hawaii Community Development Authority for the Kakaako Makai area.
"We all know this needs improvements," Iwami said of the park. "But not selling the land and building the towers."
The group is pushing to extend Ala Moana Beach Park into Kewalo Basin, a shoreline park.
"It ensures access for everyone to get to the shoreline," Iwami said. "They won't build anything on a park, and it will be protected forever."
They'd also like to see a farmer's market and possibly a cultural center, "people stuff," he said. Other projects being discussed include a reserved housing program for low-income residents.
Planning consultants presented to residents during a meeting last Tuesday a draft plan that envisions the development of pedestrian-friendly urban village neighborhoods in Kakaako.
Iwami said the group hopes to have annual cleanups at the park.
Manu Mook was a fixture at the protests, often seen blowing a conch shell at gatherings. Yesterday he traded the conch shell for a dustpan and was picking up trash with his son.
"We're here today giving our sweat to have a spiritual fellowship," Mook said. "And we don't want people saying that this area is being neglected."