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Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Three ideas to
improve Honolulu

AS Honolulu looks to its future I see three visionary projects as our top priorities to achieve in the next 10 years.

They should be a lot less divisive than the long fight to build H-3 -- a winner -- but won't be achieved easily.

Recently, we have done well with beautifying the Kuhio Beach Park area and the promenade along the Ala Wai in Waikiki. Prior to that, the redevelopment of the Fort DeRussy open space vastly enhanced Waikiki's attractiveness.

We now should focus on three projects that will further upgrade Honolulu for both residents and visitors:

Bullet It is good news that banker Walter Dods will lead a fund-raising effort for a world-class aquarium at the entrance to Kewalo Basin.

Bruce Carlson at the present small aquarium in Waikiki envisions a structure as dramatic in its way as Sydney Opera House -- with the actual design still to be decided. The nation's current leading aquariums are in Boston, Baltimore and on the shore of Monterey Bay, Calif. Monterey incorporates its bay marine life into its displays.

We can do something none of the others can do in displaying tropical fish, some of the most colorful of all. Our naturally warm waters make it possible and give even our present small aquarium a special edge over others elsewhere.

Bullet Turning the present Ala Wai Golf Course into a public park is one of Governor Cayetano's focuses for his final two years in office. Exact details are still to be envisioned and designed but -- and here I dissent from the editorial position of the Star-Bulletin -- the area can supplement Kapiolani Park and Fort DeRussy in making Waikiki and Honolulu far more livable. If we do it, future generations will be in debt to us just as we today are in debt to King Kalakaua for establishing Kapiolani Park.

The golfers who now use the course can be relocated to the open spaces of Sand Island where they surely can find happiness once their grumpiness over relocation has run its course.

Bullet Sand Island, with the golf course adding to its green open space, also should be the site of an attractive shoreline highway bypassing the Iwilei industrial area between Honolulu International Airport and downtown.

It will require a tunnel under the entrance to Honolulu Harbor but the numbers have been run to show this is affordable using fascinating new tunnel construction techniques.

The tunnel would be built ashore, in part resembling giant cinder bricks, sunk into place segment by segment and ultimately pumped dry.

EFFORTS to save a few bucks by locating the highway through central Sand Island should be scrapped in favor of bordering the long park on the coast of Sand Island for maximum beauty.

We already have a first-rate downtown area with an unbelievable collection of assets -- Iolani Palace, the historic Judiciary Building, our uniquely open State Capitol, the Honolulu municipal complex, Kawaiahao Church, the downtown commercial area and high rises, Chinatown, Aloha Tower Marketplace plus the cruise piers where the world's biggest ships pull up.

All this lies in front of a beautiful mountain backdrop and amid mostly congenial weather!

Much of the waterfront already is shifted into parks and away from non-marine industrial use. A Sand Island oil refinery mercifully was nixed and relocated to Barbers Point.

The vision and determination to achieve the above three projects can make Oahu a still more congenial and beautiful place. Let's go for it.

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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