Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Friday, January 12, 2001

Star-Bulletin Poll

Gov’s aquarium
plan gains little
public support

His plan to convert the
Ala Wai Golf Course to a
park fares better

By Pat Omandam


About half the people in the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin poll say Gov. Ben Cayetano's proposed $50 million Kakaako aquarium is a terrible idea, while only 6 percent called it a terrific plan.

Moreover, some in the state Legislature -- which convenes Wednesday -- say the governor's plans for a world-class waterfront aquarium may not be in the cards this year.

"I think we have so many other priorities this time, and we're trying to catch up with a lot of other things, so the time may not be right for it right now," said Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Star-Bulletin poll involved 603 likely voters interviewed by telephone Dec. 28-Jan. 8 by Market Trends Pacific Inc., a local polling and data research firm. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Poll graphs

Results show less opposition to Cayetano's plan to convert the Ala Wai Golf Course into Honolulu's central park. Only 33 percent thought it was a bad plan, while 21 percent said it is a terrific idea.

In the state House, members are split over the aquarium. Economic Development Chairwoman Lei Ahu Isa (D, Liliha) has visited aquariums in Australia and favors funding the governor's proposal. But Brian Schatz (D, Makiki), Energy and Environment vice chairman, said he is not convinced it is the Legislature's most pressing capital improvement need.

Poll graphs While most people like aquariums, it is not a core service of government to develop them, Schatz said.

Cayetano, through spokeswoman Kim Murakawa, said the public's reaction is not surprising given the lack of details about the investment. He said the proposed aquarium is just one part of the overall development of Kakaako.

"It's a big investment," Cayetano said. "We will make our case to the public over the next year."

Taniguchi said a push for the aquarium dates back at least 10 or 15 years, when the state discussed improving the Waikiki Aquarium. He said his committee will review the viability of the governor's plan, but said education is the priority for legislators as they reshape Cayetano's proposed two-year, $16.3 billion state budget.

"Everybody, I think, supports education. The challenge for the Legislature is going to be what we do to do that," Taniguchi said.

Education is the most important problem facing Hawaii today, the poll said. About 40 percent ranked the lack of quality education at the top, followed by Hawaii's poor economy, the availability of jobs and the cost of living. Other concerns listed included crime, traffic and the environment.

Joan Husted, Hawaii State Teachers Association executive director, said there is a strong consensus in the community that a quality public education system is needed to expand the state economy and give children opportunities that allow them to live and work in Hawaii.

"Education drives the economy," Husted said. "If you don't have an educated work force, you can't attract people."

Winston Sakurai, Board of Education first vice chairman, concurred, and said the public realizes education is underfunded and needs additional resources.

"So if you invest in education, you will have an improved society," he said. "It's going to trickle down."

The poll also shows 72 percent said they did not shoot off firecrackers on New Year's Eve. About 41 percent of those under age 35 set off fireworks, while 86 percent of those over the age of 65 did not. By ethnicity, those who said they were Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian were most likely to set off fireworks, while those of Caucasian ancestry were least likely.

While fewer people set off fireworks this year, illegal aerials remain a problem and contributed to one death and at least $400,000 in damage to Oahu homes last New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of those between the age of 50 and 65 opposed a major park complex at the Ala Wai Golf Course. By political affiliation, 46 percent of Republican poll respondents thought it was a terrible idea, compared to 33 percent of Democrats.

The governor has given notice to the city that he plans to amend the executive order allowing the city to run the state-owned property as a golf course.

Cayetano -- who believes the area should be open to more diverse uses for residents and tourists -- wants the community to come up with ideas on how to use the park before he seeks legislative funding.

Cayetano found the poll results encouraging. "Like the aquarium, I'm sure support for the park will grow as more people become aware of its value to everyone who lives here," he said.

Opponents, however, criticize the plan because the popular golf course generates $3 million in city revenue each year. City Councilwoman Rene Mansho introduced a resolution last November that opposed the plan.

Rep. Schatz, whose Makiki district does not have a golf course, favors a major urban park in Honolulu but believes no action should be taken on the Ala Wai until the state addresses the question of where the local golfers will go to play.

Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes
Legislature Bills

E-mail to City Desk

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

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin