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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Polynesian Cultural Center to open bikeway, free exhibits

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

LA'IE — The Polynesian Cultural Center has begun a $2.8 million face-lift that will open one-third of the center to the public for free and provide a segment for a city bikeway that will eventually connect Windward towns from Hau'ula to Kahuku.

The center is altering the landscape in front of its property on Kamehameha Highway at a cost of $1 million in the initial phase of the project, which started this month.

The new landscaping will feature a variety of trees and plants that will separate the bikeway from traffic and provide shade for pedestrians, said Blaine Jacobson, vice president of marketing.

This project should be completed in July.

The front-entrance expansion will include a performance mound and exhibits where guests can learn about the Polynesian triangle, ocean navigation and languages and customs of old Polynesia without having to enter the cultural park.

"Visitors touring the island that don't have time to spend the whole day at the center will be able to stop and browse around in a very comfortable environment," Jacobson said.

There will be no admission fee for this portion of the PCC, where a museum and most of the center's shops and restaurants are located.

A construction date has not been set for the entrance project.

Community organizations including Hawai'i Reserves Inc., Brigham Young University-Hawai'i and the La'ie Community Association have all been involved in planning the upgrades and beautification.

The landscape project under way is part of the La'ie greenbelt, a system of public paths and trails that will eventually stretch from Hau'ula to Kahuku, from mauka to makai, he said.

But nothing has been finalized, said Mike Foley, Hawai'i Reserves director of public relations.

The eventual plan will incorporate the city's vision-team plan for the bikeway and integrate elements of the various organizations in the community.

Theresa Bigbie, president of the La'ie Community Association, said discussions throughout La'ie have centered on what the community wants to become, and there is a desire to upgrade as much as possible.

Beautification is only one element, and the landscape project at the PCC touches on others: safety and health.

"We see great value in the pathway," said Bigbie, a member of the vision team for the bikeway. "A lot of people walk. Having a path were people can (walk) safely is very important to us."

But the bikeway, which was scheduled for construction this year, has been put on hold when it was learned that some of the land involved was privately owned and would have to be purchased, Bigbie said.