Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Audubon Society cleared for Waimea Park role

By Will Hoover
Advertiser North Shore Writer

Circuit Court Judge Sabrina McKenna yesterday lifted a temporary restraining order and cleared the way for the city and county of Honolulu to transfer the management of Waimea Falls Park to the National Audubon Society June 26.

David Arakawa said further delay would have jeopardized endangered plants.

Advertiser library photo • Jan. 5, 1997

After reviewing records, files and other pertinent materials requested from the city, the court concluded that the city had shown "it has substantial interests that require protecting and that it is necessary for the protection of those interests that a lease ... be awarded without delay," said City Corporation Counsel David Arakawa.

Arakawa said allowing the TRO to remain in effect would have adversely affected the park's rare and endangered plants and other valuable botanical collections, which must be regularly managed and maintained.

Waimea Management Corp., the company that has been operating the park on a month-to-month basis, had asked the court to issue the TRO after the city rejected the company's application bid last month to operate the park on a long term basis.

In suing the city, attorneys for Waimea Management said the city had not acted in good faith in awarding the lease to the Audubon Society on April 16. The city countered that its request for proposals process had been handled properly.

"This is an exciting thing because the community has been supporting this move, and the city is in line with the community's wishes," said Blake McElheny, who was one of the leaders of a grassroots support movement that favored the Audubon Society's plan to aim the 1,875-acre park toward eco-tourism.

Area residents had criticized Waimea Management's approach, which placed an emphasis on entertainment potential.

"We are very pleased with this decision, especially since it protects the substantial interests of the city in this property," city spokeswoman Carol Costa said following the decision. "This had widespread community support."

Costa added that the city also was pleased the matter had been resolved in a relatively short time. She said there was concern that the longer the TRO remained in effect the more difficult it would be for the Audubon Society to be able to take over the park in June.