Thursday, July 15, 1999

‘No’ from D.C.
but neighborhoods
make progress

Four Oahu neighborhoods
are working together to improve
their quality of life

By Harold Morse


Residents of Palolo, Kaimuki, Kapahulu and Waikiki came up empty in Washington, D.C., but their vision is still alive.

The four neighborhoods comprise the Greater East Honolulu Community Alliance, and the people who live, work or run businesses there have been seeking improvements through projects that embrace transportation, health, safety and the environment. Last night they met to review their progress.

The alliance began by seeking federal funds for an empowerment zone that would have added incentives to invest in these communities, President John Steel-quist told 75 people at the Kaimuki Recreation Center.

An application went to the nation's capital. The response was negative, he said. But the process was so invigorating that when Mayor Jeremy Harris came up with his visioning program, the four communities were already organized for it.

"So these projects are moving on," Steelquist said.

Bullet Trolley: Ginny Meade, Alliance assistant treasurer, said it's still unclear whether the proposed "Greater East Honolulu Trolley" will be a trolley, big bus or little bus. But it's hoped that whatever form it takes it will provide service through Kaimuki, Kapahulu and Waikiki, she said.

Bullet Health: The Rev. Frank Chong, who runs the Waikiki Health Center, spoke of a future Palolo Health Center: "We are building it around nurse practitioners and a couple of outreach workers who hopefully will be residents of the valley."

Bullet Environment: Karen Ah Mai detailed efforts to clean up the Ala Wai Canal Watershed. Some 62 groups have been asked to watch for polluted runoff, and field work studies begin this week or next for a dredging project.

Bullet Traffic and safety: Kapahulu Avenue will become safer to cross when sidewalks are widened and the road is narrowed, said Dennis Iwanaga. Traffic will be slowed and pedestrians won't have to go as far to cross the street, he said.

Sidewalks will also be widened in Kaimuki, Joe Holtz said. And trees will be planted along neighborhood streets, he said.

Iwanaga and Holtz said the projects are to help the neighborhoods bring in more people to shop at local businesses in pedestrian-friendly, attractive settings.

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