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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 22, 2005

School's growth opposed

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

Honolulu Waldorf School, off the main drag and tucked next to single-family homes in Niu Valley, wants to make room for its high school students, who now go to a Kahala office building for their education.

But some residents have a problem with the private school's plans to expand on its 2.4 acres on Ulua Street. In this community of 700 homes, they worry that the expansion will mean an increase in traffic and the possibility of crime from teenagers.

Bruce Honda, who lives across from the campus, said that even now he has trouble finding street parking because of the school. The parking woes are not only during the day, said Honda, who has lived in the community since the school was built in 1961.

"My bone of contention is that the school is a guest in the community," Honda said. "It needs to be part of the community and share the space. The school poses a great burden on our community."

If the school is successful in getting community and city approval to build a high school on its Niu Valley campus, it would accommodate 120 high school students, said Connie Daniel, school administrative director. There are 320 students now at Waldorf, including 80 on the Kahala campus.

The land in Niu is zoned residential. A school is a permitted use for residential land, but Waldorf will need a conditional-use permit and other building permits to add a high school.

To find out more

What: Honolulu Waldorf School will talk about its plans to build a high school at a meeting of the Kuli'ou'ou Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board

When: 7 p.m. on June 2

Where: 'Aina Haina Public Library meeting room

Daniel said there isn't much information for the community now, as the school is still looking into its plans, but letters were sent out recently informing residents of the school's intentions.

"We're planning to be at the neighborhood board," Daniel said. "We want to let the neighbors know we're considering this. We would like our whole school together."

Waldorf has talked about expanding before, but met with community opposition, Honda said. It's likely that when the school outlines its new plans June 2 before the Kuli'ou'ou Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board it will be met with additional opposition, he said.

It's a tight-knit community, said Jeannine Johnson, a Niu resident. Residents turned out in force to object to expansion by King's Cathedral, the church that purchased the Niu Valley Shopping Center and has remodeled the former Times Supermarket for its church. When residents were being burglarized with regularity, the entire community attended meetings, pulled together and reactivated its neighborhood security watch program.

Johnson said the main reason the community would oppose Waldorf's plans is because the school hasn't been very neighborly. It locks up its campus, which includes playground equipment and a basketball court.

"They used to share facilities with the community," Johnson said.

The school is trying to come up with a solution that would solve the school's issues with liability and safety and the community's desire to have access to playground and basketball courts, Daniel said.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com or 395-8831.