Friday, January 22, 1999

groups have lists
of priority projects

Plans will be presented
at a city Visioning Program
meeting tomorrow

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Mayor Jeremy Harris' 21st Century Visioning Program is starting to take the shape of a dollar sign.

Each of 19 groups asked to come up with ideas of what they want their neighborhoods to look like has been promised $2 million in the upcoming year's construction budget to kick off those plans.

The groups drew up lists of priority projects over the past five months, working closely with administration officials.

Group members have been invited to present plans to one another at the city's second islandwide Visioning Program meeting tomorrow at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Harris said the program represents a departure from the way decisions are made on which projects are funded through bonds.

"We're not going to decide that the repairing of the gym roof is less important than building a police station," Harris said. "We'll let the community decide what's important."

What finally makes it into the administration's construction budget will then go to the City Council on March 1.

While this coming year's construction budget has yet to be finalized, it will be "dramatically diminished" from the $300 million to $400 million of recent years, the mayor said.

Several themes emerged from the groups, he said, with park improvements and youth recreational programs among the most recurring requests. "They're wanting to rebuild our neighborhoods and neighborhood integrity," he said.

Two veterans of community planning who have been participating in groups say they're encouraged by the process.

"It was the most encouraging community-based planning process I have ever been involved with," said Michael Chu of the Nuuanu visioning team. "This is definitely a bottom-up kind of planning process."

Chu said his group wants to maintain and revitalize what is primarily an older, stable neighborhood not susceptible to many changes while providing support for area businesses.

Beautification is a third area of focus.

In Wahiawa, Mary Jane Lee was also buoyed by the process.

"The community is identifying what it wants and how it wants money spent instead of the government saying, 'Well, maybe you should do this,' " she said.

The group is targeting some of its money for expanding and improving Wahiawa town's civic center and turning it into what the community calls a "power center."

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