Changes to popular Honolulu park causes disruptions

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In two weeks, crews will start to remove the massive bypass pipe from the Ala Wai Canal. It’ll take them about 45 days to finish.

As part of the project, other changes are coming to Ala Wai Community Park, but some of those changes aren’t sitting well with some of the paddlers.

The changes include building a new road and parking lot, planting grass, and installing new lights, but these changes are done smack dab in the middle of the summer paddling season.

Ala Wai Community Park is home for Kamehameha Canoe Club.

“We’ve been here since 1972,” Kamehameha Canoe Club head coach Sam Ahai said.

They launch their canoes from the McCully end of Ala Wai Community Park.

Over the past three years, they have dealt with construction around their home while a new sewer line was being put in.

“When they first started, they told us this place would be put back they way they found it,” Ahai said.

Frank Collucio Construction had the contract to install the new sewer pipe.

“They’re required by contract to restore the site to original conditions prior to them starting work,” City Department of Design and Construction Director Chris Takashige said.

But as KHON2 learned, it won’t look exactly the way it used to.

The City’s blueprints call for a new 18-foot wide service road and pedestrian path to get built.

Between the edge of the road and the Ala Wai Canal, there will be grass along with lights to illuminate the path.

“So I would suspect once the contractor is done with their contract. It is going to look better than prior to the contract starting,” Takashige said.

The plans also call for a new parking lot close by — a place where the paddlers can park their trailers and for two trees to be chopped down to make way for the new lights and new sprinkler system.

“They said this tree was dying. It doesn’t look like it’s dying to me. My answer to that was we’re all dying, you’re not going to chop us down, right?” Ahai said.

While the new grass is growing, which could take up to three months, the paddlers will have to find another area to launch their canoes.

Kamehameha isn’t the only club that calls this place home.

“I have 10 canoes, they have 18 to 19 canoes, so we don’t have an area to go,” Ahai said.

Ahai’s message to the City: “Talk to us first and we can work it all out.”

Takashige’s message to the paddlers: “Just be patient with us. Six more months and we’ll be done.”

The city says it will take six months to finish up the project.

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