Kaneohe residents cool
on idea of waterfront plaza

Kaneohe may not need a town "center" as much as it needs to link its existing shopping, civic and recreational centers with walking and biking trails and better public transportation.

That seemed to be the general consensus among 50 people at an informational meeting yesterday at Windward Community College to explain a plan to improve life in Kaneohe.

Because streams and roadways divide many Kaneohe neighborhoods, "people have to go onto Kamehameha Highway to get where they are going," said Gene Yong, a Belt Collins Hawaii planner.

His company has a $120,000 city contract to work with residents on ways Kaneohe might best provide "a gathering place that is accessible, conveniently located, safe and open to all."

Belt Collins will produce a preliminary Kaneohe town center plan by the end of the year, then hold another public meeting in early 2004, Yong said.

"I think the key word is linked community centers," said Herb Lee, a member of the Kaneohe Town Plan Advisory Committee.

The town centers include Windward City Shopping Center, the Bay View Golf Course/Kokokahi YWCA, Kaneohe District Park/Windward Community College, the public library/police station, and Windward Mall.

Another idea floated yesterday, with less positive response, was the idea of opening more public access to Kaneohe Bay.

If Kaneohe residents ask for it, shoreline areas could be "upzoned" to mixed use, perhaps ultimately with a "waterfront town center" of a promenade, shops, restaurants and high-density housing replacing single-family homes, said Eric Crispin, city director of Planning and Permitting.

"We'll never get there unless we at least consider it," Crispin said. "It isn't anything the city is trying to sneak in in any way. If this is something the community is interested in pursuing, we're trying to get feedback."

Such a concept probably wouldn't result in any changes along the shoreline for 30 or more years when current owners' homes pass to their children, Crispin said. The city isn't considering condemning any land, he said.

Kaneohe is a bedroom community that wants to remain a bedroom community, responded Ron Chadwick. "We don't have a distinctive community culture and I don't think we want one," he said.

George Young agreed that there is little public access from Kaneohe town to Kaneohe Bay, but noted that Heeia Kea Pier and a planned city park on 219 acres mauka should be considered as part of the overall picture. More urgent, he said, is getting a "shuttle" bus service to visit friends or shop within Kaneohe town.

The idea of using publicly owned portions of Kaneohe, Kamooalii and Keaahala streams for hike-and-bike trails appealed to Bryan Shon, who lives in Temple Valley.

But Marilyn Mattice, whose backyard abuts a channelized stream doesn't think it's such a hot idea. "If there will be bicyclers and walkers in my back yard, that's all I need to know. I'm going to sell my house," she said.

And Mattice said she'd rather see the city fix and add sidewalks in Kaneohe, before it considers a waterfront development.

"There's so much they need to do," she said. "This is way out of reach."


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --