Plan could shift Aloha Tower memorial park


POSTED: Saturday, December 05, 2009

A state agency is looking at the idea of relocating Irwin Memorial Park, which contains a parking lot for Aloha Tower Marketplace, to part of 7.3 acres of waterfront land created by filling in areas between two piers.

The board of the Aloha Tower Development Corp. is seeking public comment about a draft strategic plan that would relocate the park to filled land between Piers 6 and 7.

The current park site would be used for multilevel parking and a commercial structure, connected by a bridge over Bishop Street to the planned rail transit station near a Hawaiian Electric site.

Corporation Development Director Tom Otake said the draft plan examines ways to integrate the city's planned rail transit system and make access easier between it and Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Otake said the relocation of the park would improve pedestrian and traffic flow.

Another idea is to develop a bridge/mall to tie in the transit stop to Aloha Marketplace.

“;I need to emphasize that the plan is very conceptual, with various possibilities put forth to gather input, comments and ideas,”; Otake said. “;It is not about doing everything, but looking at different scenarios coinciding with what the public would most like to have in the area.”;

The draft is part of a plan to fill in 7.3 acres of harbor between Piers 6 and 8, next to Pier 7, the location of Bishop Museum's shuttered Hawaii Maritime Center and the historic ship Falls of Clyde.

The ship, given to a community group, is expected to undergo repairs at Kalaeloa Harbor.

Otake said after the public comment period, the board may decide to seek requests for proposals about the draft plan to study development options.

Sandra Pfund, chief executive officer of the Aloha Tower Development Corp., said the agency wanted to know whether the William G. Irwin Charity Foundation might be interested in relocating the park.

Pfund said if the trust turns down the trade, the corporation plans to eventually restore the park, returning parking lot areas to green spaces.

The park was originally a lawn area, but much of it was converted into a parking lot by military order during World War II, she said.

Michelle Matson, a descendant of William Irwin's sister, said a prior state Circuit Court ruling recognized the park could not be touched because it was donated with the understanding that it would continue to be a memorial park.

Matson, who sits on the agency's advisory committee, said the park, listed on the state Register of Historic Places, served as the landscape companion to Aloha Tower in the 1930s, and she hopes the tradedoes not happen.

“;Aloha Tower was the beacon and the park was the gateway,”; she said. “;It still has the original blue-rock, hand-hewn curbing, and it has the trees. ... We have a plan to restore Irwin Park as it was originally.”;

Honolulu attorney Dennis O'Connor Jr., representing the trust, said he has not seen anything concrete.

Bishop Museum was unavailable for comment.

The draft plan is available for review online at alohatower.org.