Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.


View Point

By Barry Usagawa

Friday, October 13, 2000

Don’t close Ala Wai
Golf Course

IN deciding to close the Ala Wai Golf Course through a loophole in the state executive order provisions, Governor Cayetano has alienated public links golfers.

He has the nerve to call himself an avid golfer just like he calls himself a Hawaiian at heart. When was the last time the governor played at Ala Wai with the rest of us public links golfers? Why should he? He has an honorary membership at Waialae Country Club!

Let me see, Waialae or Ala Wai? But converting the Waialae course to a park would be out of the question because the influential clientele at Waialae outweigh the powerless common folk at Ala Wai. Special interests win again.

Being an environmental engineer I feel compelled by Cayetano's irregular actions to provide some major concerns that he and the next Legislature must seriously consider:

Bullet Assess the entire picture before acting. It is not feasible to build a replacement golf course at the Sand Island State Recreation Area. There is not enough water.

The Board of Water Supply rules prohibit the use of drinking water for the irrigation of new golf courses. Ala Wai blends brackish caprock water with potable water to bring the chlorides down so the grass can survive. There is no brackish water at Sand Island, which is man-made.

Ted Makalena Golf Course uses more water than Sand Island State Park, and Makalena is basically a dust bowl. There is not enough water to flush salts down below the root zone so grass does not grow. A regular golf course uses more than three times the amount of water now used at the Sand Island park.

Bullet Recycled water from the Sand Island wastewater treatment plant is too salty to be feasible. The plant is adjacent to the park, which is great, but the sewage effluent is much too salty to recycle. That's because of the miles of leaking sewer lines where salt water flows into sewer pipes.

The city's multibillion-dollar infiltration/inflow rehabilitation program will take decades to complete. That is the very reason why the city has not built a reclamation facility at Sand Island.

Sand Island has only an advance primary facility so secondary, tertiary and desalination facilities need to be installed, causing the cost of irrigation water to skyrocket by as much as $10 per 1,000 gallons -- five times the drinking-water rate. Are taxpayers willing to subsidize that?

Bullet It seems hypocritical to say we need more parks, so make an existing golf course a park and then, right down the road, convert an existing park into a new golf course.

The two sites are less than five miles away. Why make Ala Wai a park when Kapiolani and Ala Moana parks already surround Waikiki? Why not spend the money to improve the Sand Island park? It's dilapidated. Don't the people of Kalihi deserve better? I would take my kids to the Sand Island park more often if there weren't so much dirt, thorns and poky grass. At its oceanfront, build a breakwater and create more beaches. Tourists and locals would like more beaches.

Bullet Converting the Ala Wai Golf Course to a park would be a waste of taxpayer monies that were spent recently to renovate the course and build a new clubhouse.

The busiest golf course in the nation is a moneymaker for the city that will be lost, causing increases in property taxes or golf green fees. Ala Wai is the busiest golf course in the nation not only because of its location but because of its cost and layout. It's close, it's cheap and it's flat and wide open.

Put the contours of West Loch or Ewa Villages at Ala Wai and you wouldn't get the high play. The flat, wide-open layout allows faster golf rounds ranging from three to five hours, compared with four to six hours at West Loch and Ewa Villages.

Bullet Does Cayetano believe for an instant that the Asian tourism marketers would promote Oahu more just because it has another park?

What is the governor's real agenda, encroachment of Waikiki high-rises into the surrounding residential areas? He has said it's a redevelopment opportunity to revitalize Waikiki, but another park will not do that. Cayetano should fully disclose the possible development scenarios. The public has the right to know and may not like the options. Does he remember the Date-Laau high-rise development?

Bullet Another factor that may be driving the governor's 2002 retirement package is competition. With the military golf courses opening up for public play, the other golf courses are feeling the pinch; witness the discount sales for tee times in newspaper ads.

Competitive green fees benefit golfers. But guess what will happen if the busiest golf course in the nation closes and a course at Sand Island is not feasible? The other courses will get more play and maybe even increase their fees. Golfers will lose again while Cayetano gets free preferred tee times at any golf course during his retirement.

Barry Usagawa is a civil engineer, golfer and Kaneohe resident.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin