Meeting to discuss future of Ala Moana beach park turns into shouting match

The city held a final meeting Monday night to discuss the future of one of Hawaii’s oldest and busiest parks.

But residents weren’t happy with the latest version of the Ala Moana Regional Park Master Plan, nor did they like how the meeting was conducted.

McCoy Pavilion Auditorium was packed with residents eager to share their thoughts.

At times, officials had to stop the meeting to ask vocal crowd members to let featured speakers finish.

Residents say they want improvements, but feel like their input isn’t being considered.

Many were upset by the format, which involved smaller group discussions versus one large public forum.

“This whole process tonight is wrong,” a resident told Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “You’ve divided us all into these tiny little interest groups, and we’re not hearing anyone else’s concerns. We know what we care about, but what do other people care about?”

“They didn’t allow the concerns of the majority of the people who were here in reference to be heard and given response over the microphone,” said Eric Keawe. “How can people respond? How can we hear what’s going on? That’s wrong. It’s a wrong process.”

Many also took issue with a plan to reconfigure the parking stalls along Ala Moana Park Drive.

Some want to keep beachside parking and maintain the sidewalks, rather than move all parking to the mauka side to create a larger promenade.

“They don’t need a wide promenade. How many people use that walkway?” Keawe said. “The guy that did the architecture, he said there’s going to be two-way traffic. How can there be two-way traffic with angled parking? I don’t understand that.”

“When you pull out, a whole car pulls out. Even if you keep the two-way traffic, as he said tonight he was going to do, you’re still pulling your entire car out, which means you’re going to stop traffic going both ways, which backs up traffic both ways,” said Salvatore Lanzilotti. “I don’t want to see big traffic jams, especially on the days when it’s really, really crowded.”

“I feel that since the McCoy Pavilion is slated as the hub for organizations, that we should build something like maybe a two-story parking structure that is dedicated to this area, so that when there are pavilion activities, that there’s parking available,” said Evelyn Say. “I have not heard anything about disability parking for those who need it. Perhaps that should be considered.”

Caldwell stayed after the meeting to answer questions about the plan.

“You mentioned that we’re not listening, we’re just doing what we want,” Caldwell told a resident. “We came here two years ago, and for two years, we laid out all the things that I think have made this park better. So I think the facts actually make the point that we are listening.”

A draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2018, and more public meetings will be held after that.

Comments can still be submitted online at OurAlaMoanaPark.com.

View the Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice (EISPN) here.

Master plan graphics and images provided by City and County of Honolulu.

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