Heavy machinery worked yesterday along the dirt and gravel detour road provided for visitors to the Koko Head Botanical Gardens and Koko Head Stables.

Koko Crater warnings
create some confusion

A contractor at a nearby project will
take them down after community

People can ignore "No Trespassing: Violators Prosecuted" and "Keep Out" signs at the entrance of Koko Head Botanical Garden's access road, a city spokeswoman said yesterday.

The warning signs were posted by a contractor for the Koko Villas housing development, near the garden's access road entrance.

Project spokesman Donald Clegg said he was not aware of the signs and pledged to take them down "right away."

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the signs were put up as a precaution, primarily to stop after-hours visitors. But they are at the beginning of a private road that serves as a public access to the city-run botanical park.

The road is "their property, and they have the right to do that," she said. "If they (visitors) wish to go around the signs, it appears that they (construction workers) will let them through."

Several community members have complained about the signs, saying they are misleading and have stopped many from visiting the botanical garden.

Developer Konakoh Inc. started construction of Koko Villas, one of East Oahu's newest developments, late last year. But residents said the signs went up recently, and several "No Trespassing" signs were posted as late as last week.

"There should be no signs," Clegg said. "I'll tell the contractor to knock off the signs. He's been overly eager ... (because of construction) trucks going in and out."

Other community members have also expressed concern about the safety of the garden's access road, which is frequented by heavy machinery traveling to and from the construction site.

"During the construction they use heavy equipment, backing and turning around," said Kalama Valley resident Tom Fake, a frequent Koko Crater visitor. "That's a dangerous situation."

Fake also said that the dirt access road becomes "pretty muddy" after a heavy rain.

Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board member Robert Clark said he has also fielded residents' concerns on the access issue.

"My understanding was that they (the developer) were supposed to leave it open continuously," he said. "After all, that's a public right of way."

Costa said a new access road to replace the current one could be opened as early as Thursday, pending final city approval. Clegg estimated that it would open within the next two weeks.

"I think we're very close," Costa said, to opening the new road.

She could not say whether the warning signs have affected the garden's visitor numbers, but stressed that guided tours for schoolchildren have been going up without a hitch.

She also said there are cones set up on the road to guide motorists to the botanical garden safely.

But Fake said he has seen many people turn into the park's entrance, see the signs and back out.

"I find it disturbing," he said. "I think the developer just needs to open up the new road. ... It's a real simple issue."



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