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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 11, 2001

Kapi'olani Park archery proposal draws protests

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

The recently passed city construction budget includes $810,000 for improvements to Kapi'olani Park, but some park-goers pointedly object to including money to design and construct a building for archers.

Jack Gillmar, president of the Kapi'olani Park Preservation Society, said he objects to open space being taken away to build a Shinto zen archery structure that caters to a relatively small group of people and has religious connotations.

Gillmar also said he's concerned that the structure is "totally incongruous" for a public park.

But Waikiki Councilman Duke Bainum said he supports the project as one that will contribute to the unique cultural diversity of Hawai'i's parks.

"I think it's great that we have a Japanese structure there," Bainum said. "Who wants a vanilla park? That's what makes Hawai'i special, the different cultures. You're not going to find one of these at a park in Iowa."

Bainum said he's comfortable that the dojo will add to the park and that it will not require the bulk of the $810,000. He said there's plenty of room for everyone in the park. "This will spice it up, not mess it up," he said.

The dispute is the latest over the heavily used 155-acre park. In its bid to preserve the open area and prohibit commercial uses, the preservation society led the campaign to keep out Burger King from the zoo, has sought to eliminate the art sales along the "zoo fence" and even raised questions about the pond that was added as part of the new Kapi'olani Park bandstand.

The money for the park improvements are included in the $579 million construction budget — the second-largest spending plan in city history — approved by the City Council last month.

On the archery issue, both sides took their case to the City Council. Jerry Hucks, a member of The Archery Coalition, which includes both Western and Zen archers, praised the project as bringing much-needed improvements to a sport growing in popularity.

Those who support the plan say it's hard to estimate how many archers now use the park. Albert Batara belongs to both The Archery Coalition and Hawaii Kyudo Kai, the Zen archery group. Batara said at least two-dozen people now use the archery range regularly, including practitioners of traditional archery, which emphasizes accuracy in hitting the target; and kyudo, which emphasizes form, discipline and posture.

Leslie Tomokiyo is one of many regular users of the Kapi'olani Park archery range, which may be moved.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

During the City Council budget debate Wednesday, Larry McGranaghan testified against the proposal and argued that archery should be moved out of the busy park. He said the change is needed "in the interest of public safety" with the use of increasingly powerful bows.

McGranaghan echoed concerns in recent years over reports of wayward arrows from the archery range landing in nearby tennis courts and other areas.

Gillmar also objects to city taxpayers footing the bill for the dojo.

"There is no reason absolutely why the public should be paying for it," he said.

Among Gillmar's other objections is that a portion of that area of the park was deeded by the society to the city "specifically with the condition that it remain in open space." The construction will also encroach on the former site of a heiau, he said.

City officials say the project is still being discussed and designed. Eric Crispin, assistant director of the Department of Design and Construction, said officials are meeting with community members on both sides of the dispute.

Crispin said officials hope to find a plan that meets the needs of all those interested.

But he can't yet say how much money will be devoted to building the dojo and how much will go to lighting, improved accessibility for the disabled to pathways in the area and other improvements.

"It's just too early to determine at this point," Crispin said. "The diverse use of the park is one of the neat things about the park — the fact that you have various interested groups whether it be soccer, rugby, softball."

Bainum pointed out that the archery range has been in the park for 30 years without a significant safety problem and is in a part of the park that's not heavily used.