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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Kuhio Park Terrace plan must put residents first

State plans to replace the high-rise public housing project Kuhio Park Terrace with low-rise family-friendly apartments makes sense, with several important cautions.

Sociologists and urban planners have concluded that high-rise public housing, of which Kuhio Park Terrace is a classic example, creates a unique set of problems.

The anonymity of the high-rise experience, difficulties in providing security and lack of recreational and meeting places lead to a variety of social stresses.

Public housing authorities have generally had a much better experience with less dense projects such as the Kukui Gardens project right here in Honolulu.

So if the money is available, replacing Kuhio Park Terrace with a mixture of low-rise apartments and a mixture of income groups makes good sense. The idea of including some single-family homes plus apartments that could be purchased will also lend stability to Kuhio Park.

Some Kuhio Park residents fear that they are losing a known quantity for the unknown. And they are right to be concerned.

They might remember earlier urban renewal efforts that cleared out vast tracts of downtown Honolulu in the Vineyard area only to see the land sit empty for years. A neighborhood was permanently broken up and dispersed.

More recently, the redevelopment of Kaka'ako has seen temporary dislocation of light industrial and other activities become permanent over time.

If the Kuhio Park Terrace redevelopment does get approved, it must not begin until all the money and planning are in place. Residents must be given adequate housing during the development and strong assurances that, as soon as possible, they will be able to move back and re-create their neighborhood in newer and more wholesome surroundings.