Sunday, July 8, 2001

Shekinah Ahina enjoyed the beach Friday at Pokai Bay.
The Waianae Neighborhood Board supports closing the
park at nights to deter drug traffickers.

Waianae board wants
night park closure

Residents say drug trafficking and
other problems at Pokai
Bay have worsened

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Landis Ornellas, a Waianae resident for 28 years, has enjoyed the view of Pokai Bay Beach Park from his veranda on Lualualei Homestead Road. But recently, the view has been tainted with drug trafficking, prostitution and sounds of gunfire.

Because of the illegal activity in front of his home, Ornellas said, "I don't want my grandchildren to play in front of the house."

The Waianae Neighborhood Board unanimously voted in support of a six-month temporary closure during night hours for Pokai Bay Beach Park during a board meeting earlier this week. Members would like to close the park from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. The board will send a letter to the city stating their support of a closure and their request for a sign to be posted on the park.

Small empty plastic bags are all over the parking lot, Ornellas said. "It's very noticeable," he said.

About two months ago, Ornellas said, his 9-year-old granddaughter entered the bathroom at Pokai Bay Beach Park and said there were women selling drugs in the bathroom. "We need to do something," he said.

William Aila, a local fisherman, said drug trafficking at Pokai Bay has worsened in the last six to eight months. "The park transformed into a drug marketplace," Aila said.

Needles have been found at the park, said Aila, who lives on Lualualei Homestead Road. Most kids along the Leeward coastline learn how to swim at Pokai Bay, he said.

Moreover, homeless people sleep near the heiau on the southern area of the park and throw rubbish at the site. They treat the heiau disrespectfully, he said.

Georgette Jordan, who heads the board's Parks and Recreation Committee, said, "I feel the longer we let them (drug dealers) control our park, they're controlling our community."

But city Councilmember John DeSoto believes the temporary closure of the park will not resolve the problem.

Celena Kaowili, center, and kids enjoyed the beach at
Pokai Bay on Friday. In the foreground are, from left,
her nieces Chelayne and Sheyanne Kaowili. In the
background are, from left, Kaimi Kalaola, Shaina
Leilua and Kahea Kalaola.

"It's a Band-Aid solution," DeSoto said. "If there's a problem, deal with it now."

The closure will only send drug dealers to another park, DeSoto said, and efforts should be put into more enforcement instead.

Similar problems of drug trafficking have occurred at Magic Island. Residents on the Windward side also requested city officials to close their parks, DeSoto said. "It's happening all over the place."

Closing the beach would only penalize the general public, he added.

"They should be able to feel safe and enjoy the recreational facility," DeSoto said.

E-mail to City Desk

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