Here on Oahu, Kailua is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in the state. But there is, however, a not so sightly structure going up right alongside a busy roadway that has many people wondering what it is?
Driving up Kailua Road, it’s almost impossible not to notice at the bottom of a beautiful and towering banyan tree.
“I drive by it just about every day,” said resident Jason Cuttida. “I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s been going on for a little while, and it’s kind of an eyesore. It’s not very attractive and it’s very conspicuously located here, so that’s a concern to us.”
Like many Kailua residents, Diane Hardy of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle was left to wonder what the structure is. While not very big, it’s definitely an eye catcher — for all the wrong reasons.
But she said “we understand the reasons that this has to be here.”
So what is it? The Board of Water Supply said it’s a project to replace an aging pressure valve that controls a significant amount of water flow into Kailua. The old valve was underground, but the new valve will be above ground.
BWS spokesman Shawn Nakamoto said that “if it’s underground, and we do need to make an adjustment because there’s abnormally high pressure or there’s a main break could be that much harder to get to, this was an opportunity to move it above ground for both safety and maintenance.”
While having the valve above ground makes it’s easy for crews to work on, it also makes it an easier target for vandals, which is why this structure is being built around it.
But is there a reason it has to be right there? “The two mains that were in that area have been realigned, so that particular location is where the two mains meet,” replied Nakamoto.
“I think they looked at other areas, but they want to preserve the tree, and that was really the best opportunity and the best placement for the unit that houses the valve.”
“We are concerned about the look of it and wanting to make it maybe blend in a little better,” said Hardy, “and not be so conspicuous.”
Although it’s an eyesore now, Nakamoto promises once it’s finished, the Board of Water Supply will paint the building green, replace the grass, and then landscape around it.
She also said she’s happy to work directly with the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, which has a strong connection to this specific banyan tree, which is over 70 years old.
Nakamoto said the project is taking longer than expected because of the recent heavy rains and because it required a lot of coordination with both the city and the state.