Waimanalo board wants new canoe halau site
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau
WAIMANALO Advocates fear that a plan four years in the making to place a canoe halau at Kaiona Beach Park could be in jeopardy since the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board's decided, just two days before a hearing on a special management area permit, to ask the city to use another site.
Members of the halau's planning committee wonder whether the project will lose the money set aside for it if the planning process must begin all over again for the new recommended location, Waimanalo Beach Park, which is less than a mile from Kaiona on the Waimanalo town side.
They were to meet last night to discuss their options and will present their views at a City Council Zoning Committee permit hearing today at 10:30 a.m. in the Honolulu Hale Committee Meeting Room.
"If we don't ask for it to stay at Kaiona and we ask that it be moved, we'll lose it altogether because there's not enough time (to make the necessary changes)," said Nazarene Anderson, with the halau planning committee.
The project has wide community support, but residents began to object when they discovered it was to be built in the middle of a popular camping beach, Anderson said.
The 20-by-60-foot halau, or longhouse, would include a circular driveway and sidewalks that would cut the park in half, and the driveway would make it unsafe for children, opponents complained. The committee's original design called for just a building, Anderson said, and at the Kailua end of the park, rather than in the middle.
"I'm sure if we delete the driveway and the walkway, scale down and move it off to the side where we originally proposed, we wouldn't have a problem," Anderson said.
At Monday's neighborhood board meeting, chairman Wilson Ho told more than 80 people present that he wasn't inclined to address the issue. He told residents that the decision was in the hands of the City Council.
But the residents showed up with a petition containing 300 signatures opposing the Kaiona site, as well as a survey of 150 people voicing their opinion about the halau.
Ho said everyone agreed to address the problem after one man cautioned against remaining divided and not taking a stand.
The resulting decision was unanimous. The board, which includes several paddlers and paddling coaches, voted 10-0 to recommend that the city build the halau at Waimanalo Beach Park. Ho will take that information to the City Council hearing today.
The community also agreed that the paddlers could still practice at the beach and that programs could be held there, said Mabel Ann Spencer, a neighborhood board member who opposed the location of the halau.
The board, which had supported building the halau at Kaiona in 1999, wasn't aware of the greater use of the park by the community, Spencer said. The park is packed with campers almost every weekend. People like the beach because it is calm and safe for young children. Even for the paddlers it's a safe place to practice because of the calm waters.
She said she was happy with the board's decision and was glad the community could solve the problem and not have to take a fight to the City Council.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at email@example.com or 234-5266.