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Monday, July 3, 2000

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Walkers constitute most nonmotorist traffic around
Diamond Head Crater, followed by runners and bike riders.

City plans
Diamond Head
area enhancements

Ideas on sidewalks, signs,
streets, landscaping and
other amenities abound

By Harold Morse


Keeping the Diamond Head area like Diamond Head -- green and people-friendly -- is something the city hopes to achieve through roadwork.

City consultants are talking about making the Diamond Head vicinity pedestrian-friendly with wider pedestrian pathways and traffic-calming devices to make motorists slow down and keep the area peaceful.

"Diamond Head should become a green pathway," Mary O'Leary, a senior planner, told about 45 residents last week at Kapiolani Community College.

O'Leary, with Townscape Inc., city consultants on a Diamond Head Road Recreation Master Plan, presented a plan draft version.

Walkers or pedestrians constitute most nonmotorist traffic around Diamond Head Crater, with runners and bike riders following in that order, she said. A longtime walker herself, her Diamond Head walks started long before she found out Townscape was in line to draft a recreation plan, she said.

"This place is very special to a lot of people," O'Leary added. "Diamond Head is a national landmark. It's also a state monument, a very significant representation of who we are" and an international symbol, she said.

In a 30-minute slide lecture, O'Leary touted ways to make Diamond Head pleasing to residents and visitors alike. Sidewalks, streets, landscaping, signs, lighting and other amenities were viewed.

Research and analysis began last fall when Townscape met with stakeholders in the plan and drafted guiding principles. They found universal reverence for Diamond Head and a diversity of views on it, O'Leary said.

Going into the field, Townscape acquired further data. "We have gained an understanding of the lay of the land and then how it's used," O'Leary said.

Six concerns cited the most in questionnaires, in descending order, were pedestrian safety, beautification, bicycle usage and bike lanes, historic and cultural values, parking and vehicular traffic, O'Leary said.

"We need to take care of what we have, make it look nice," she said. "People are saying two basic things about beauty": Keep it natural, and beautify roadways around Diamond Head, O'Leary said. With regard to historic and cultural values, people want to maintain integrity and respect for Diamond Head, she said. On parking, a consensus seems to say to keep the number of existing parking spaces, don't increase it, and also improve appearances, she said. "Let's make it look like a national or state park."

A linear park setting on the ocean side limiting vehicle access through narrowed roadways has some adherents, and a scenic road on the back side of Diamond Head, leaving space for landscaping, is another idea, O'Leary said.

"The theme is having an area that is scenic for everyone."

A 5-foot bike lane, 25-mph speed limit and special type of road open to all types of vehicles is under discussion, she said. "There's more room for people, less room for cars."

Paul Johnson, who lives at Makalei Place and Diamond Head Road, opposed restricting vehicular traffic on Diamond Head Road. "It's an important street," he said. "The other things are important, too, but ... a road is for cars. We've got to address the cars first."

Michelle Matson, a Diamond Head area resident, countered that Diamond Head Road needs to be a scenic roadway, not a municipal thoroughfare. "It's not a route for tour buses," she said.

"We have to look at the impact. We only have so much carrying capacity." Jean Rolles, of Paki Avenue near Diamond Head Road, called for continued city bus service. "There are a lot of people who need to have city bus transportation," she said.

On bike safety, Dr. William Yarbrough of Diamond Head Road objected to allowing bike riders to come downhill. They go faster than cars, he said. "If you have a bike lane, they should be going up."

Local historian Nancy Bannick called for underground utilities.

"Our plan does propose that utilities should be underground," O'Leary said.

Further discussion suggested the high cost may be prohibitive.

E-mail to City Desk

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