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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Groups rally to preserve land gift conditions

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

Five nonprofit organizations have banded together to fight further state development of the 70-year-old Irwin Park that doubles as a parking lot at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Scenic Hawai'i, the Outdoor Circle, Historic Hawai'i Foundation, Hawai'i's Thousand Friends and Life of the Land this week filed a motion asking the land court to collectively grant the groups the legal standing to fight Aloha Tower Development Corporation's recent legal attempt to remove development restrictions on the park.

Irwin Park is at the makai end of downtown Honolulu next to Aloha Tower Marketplace and holds 118 parking stalls, although it is also surrounded by monkeypod, banyan and coconut trees.

Creating more parking has been a critical issue for Aloha Tower Development, the state agency that oversees development of the Honolulu waterfront.

The agency, which has proposed a landscaped garage at Irwin Park, has filed suit in land court to remove land restrictions that limit development.

Helen Irwin Fagan donated the half-acre site to the Territory of Hawai'i in memory of her father, William Irwin.

The donation had conditions that the parcel be used either for a park or be returned to her family.

But the state agency said when the territory decided to build Nimitz Highway in 1952, officials asked Fagan's permission and she waived her rights to the property.

The organizations questioned in the motion the existence and authenticity of the waiver.

Attorney John Hoshibata, who is representing the groups, said removing the land restrictions would have a "chilling effect" on other individuals or organizations that want to donate land to the state.

The motion said there should continue to be "a strong public policy that encourages donations and gifts that benefit Hawai'i's people and promote the protection and preservation of Hawai'i's natural resources and historic places."

The motion is scheduled to be heard June 18.