City highlights Ala Moana Beach Park changes ahead of master plan

Thousands of people have weighed in so far on the future of Ala Moana Beach Park.

But some are asking, why not work on the things that need to be fixed now?

Earlier this month, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell called for people to suggest what they would like to see for the 100-acre beach park.

The city is paying consultants, including one from the mainland, $1.25 million to plan for the park’s future. It says a draft plan could be unveiled as early as this summer.

But the price tag bothers Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi, who chairs the council’s budget committee.

“Let’s use that million dollars for health and safety issues at other parks, or even at Ala Moana Park,” Kobyashi said, “because there’s some repairs that need to be done there.”

KHON2 heard complaints about the park’s condition from residents and visitors.

“When it’s a beautiful place and a lot of people go there, it get degraded,” said Chinatown resident Eldred Kagawa.

“The grass needs a little work,” said Jeffrey Shwaid, who visits often from Winnipeg, Canada.

There were other complaints from viewers. One pointed to parking stalls near the Ewa concession stand that are no longer clearly marked. Another complained about broken or missing shower heads.

But the city told KHON2 that fixes are coming soon. The city will zero in on popular spots in the park, including a never-before-seen look for the comfort station and showers near Magic Island.

“What you are looking at now is a bathroom with five stalls,” said Chris Dacus, the city’s executive assistant to the parks department. “We well have a bathroom that is half the size, cheaper and will have six stalls, and it’s going to be unisex.”

Dacus went on to say “we have this pathway which you see hundreds of people walking around Magic Island. We’re going to improve that pathway. And people want the grass improved. We’re going to start with the greenway along Ala Moana Boulevard, which is the most visible part of the park, and we’re going to green that up in the next year.”

As for the million dollars that will be spent on consultants, Dacus said, “two-thirds of that money will be going to local consultants and one-third to a mainland consultant (Biederman Redevelopment Ventures of New York). That mainland consultant is one of the only consultants in the world that deals with some of the issues in this park.”

Dacus said parking at Ala Moana Beach Park will also be dealt with in the master plan, which could possibly include limits on the number of hours allowed to park vehicles.

Caldwell made parks a central issue in his State of the City speech. The city promises to fix two comfort stations and one playground each month for the rest of the year.

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