Saturday, September 12, 1998

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Some businesses say work being done to fix a sinkhole at
Hamakua Drive and Hahani Street in Kailua is affecting them.
The city says it will try to address the situation, anticipating
repairs won't be finished until December.

Kailua businesses want action
on sinkhole that’s killing sales

By Susan Kreifels


Some Kailua stores say a hole at Hamakua Drive and Hahani Street is sinking business.

On Aug. 24, the middle of the intersection there caved in due to a deteriorated 27-inch sewer line. As a result, the city has prohibited left turns into Hahani Street, barricaded the sinkhole and closed two of the four lanes on Hamakua Drive.

Businesses -- among them Midas Auto Systems, Zia's Caffe, Car Audio Specialists, Jaron's and Bar-B-Q n' Things -- say the sinkhole has had an effect on them.

"We're a little bit slower now," said Tressa Owens, owner of Zia's Caffe. "The first couple of days, (my business) was completely dead. No one was coming."

Owens said she had to move traffic cones on Hamakua Drive so motorists could make turns into Safeway and her restaurant.

"My restaurant is kind of like one of those, 'Let's go to Zia's.' ... If they can't find their way in here, they're not going to come. We've only been here for four months. It's hard for me because we're still new and I want people to be able to find us," she said.

Kern Rogerson, owner of the neighboring Jaron's Restaurant Kailua, said: "Business is dramatically slower since the sinkhole happened, but the thing about it is, it's just the perception. I've had people call and say, 'I thought you were closed because of the sinkhole, because Hamakua is closed.' "

Rogerson has posted a notice in his kitchen soliciting ideas for a new dish he'll call the "Sinkhole Special."

"You kind of have to roll with the punches, kind of make a joke out of it," Rogerson said.

It's business as usual for the American Savings Bank at the intersection.

Branch Manager Michael Yamaguchi said the bank hasn't heard any complaints about the sinkhole nor has it affected the number of clients. Because banking is a necessity for people, the sinkhole will not prevent people from going to the bank, he said.

Thomas Kimpel of Creative Projects said the sinkhole has actually helped them get business.

"Actually it helped a little bit because people have noticed our business because of the activity that has been going on," Kimpel said. "We've had a few more walk-ins than we normally have."

The city said it is exploring ways to lessen the impact on businesses while roadwork is being done.

To accommodate businesses, the city will conduct a study on whether left turns from Hamakua Drive to Hahani Street during the repair are possible. Mayor Jeremy Harris said the city is considering "trenchless technology" which would minimize traffic disruption, noise and dust by avoiding the conventional method of digging an open trench to replace the sewer line.

However, methods must be evaluated further for the project, the city said. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 1.

E-mail to City Desk

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