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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Hanauma height glitch creates credibility mess

The good news is that the city is swiftly moving to correct a design problem that left a portion of the new visitor and education center at Hanauma Bay visible from the beach.

The bad news is that this unexpected glitch has given planners a credibility problem that will be difficult to overcome.

The new $10.6 million facility at the parking lot overlooking the famous nature reserve will provide offices, exhibit space, a snack and gift shop and a place to educate visitors on the cultural and environmental importance of Hanauma.

Critics have said the project is unneeded, will mar the natural beauty of the area and will further commercialize what should be a natural experience. They were particularly worried about the visual impact of the structure.

City planners insisted that the building would be virtually invisible, covered by a grassy berm and faced with natural materials. No views would be interrupted and nothing would be visible from the beach.

Now it turns out that the critics were right to be concerned. The fact that the structure will be modified and lowered 5 feet may take care of this particular problem. But are there other surprises ahead?

It is crucial that the city stick to its word that this needed structure will not impose itself in any way on the natural beauty of Hanauma.