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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Island Voices
Med school shouldn't be built in Kaka'ako

By Joseph A. DePonio
Honolulu resident

The University of Hawai'i Medical School doesn't belong in the Kaka'ako Waterfront Park. Why do we need to take part of the last oceanfront area in town and use it as a university campus? So the faculty can enjoy the view?

It makes much more sense to put the new medical campus downtown, near the major hospitals. The director of the Department of Health proposed moving the medical school into the Lili'uokalani Building, across from Queen's Hospital.

Although the idea was rejected, I would like to suggest an alternate downtown location: the current site of Central Intermediate School. To make this move possible, the following would need to be done:

  • A new school to replace Central Intermediate would need to be built in the Kaka'ako/Ala Moana area (the empty lot at the corner of Pensacola and Kapi'olani is a possible site). After the new school is completed , Central Intermediate would be demolished and construction of the medical campus would begin.
  • The lot makai of Central Intermediate School is currently used as a parking lot. The state should build a new office building on this parcel, along with a parking garage. Once the new state office building is completed, the Departments of Education and Human Services should be moved there. The building could easily be made large enough to house additional state agencies as well.
  • The current Department of Health building — Kinau Hale — was scheduled for demolition several years ago. The Lili'uo-kalani Building, which is structurally sound, should be renovated, and the DOH should be moved there.
  • Kinau Hale could then be demolished and a Capitol Visitor Center built in its place. The Capitol parking garage could be expanded mauka, which would allow the current parking lots around Kinau Hale to be replaced with green space.

The best use of Kaka'ako Makai is as a public recreation area. I would like to see the park expanded eventually to cover all of the area makai of Ala Moana Boulevard between Kewalo Basin and Foreign Trade Zone No. 9. This would make a better "central park" than the Ala Wai Golf Course.

Honolulu has a bad habit of trying to jam too much into too little space. Let's not make that mistake again with Kaka'ako Makai.