New roads open in 'Aiea near old sugar mill site
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Robbie Dingeman
'Aiea residents finally get to drive on the roads near the site of the old 'Aiea sugar mill after years of seeing them sit empty.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann helped open the roads in his neighborhood community yesterday.
The roads are Halewiliko Street, Halewiliko Place and Pohai Place. Halewiliko Street connects 'Aiea Heights Drive and Ulune Street. The city also activated a new traffic signal at the intersection of Ulune and Kulawea streets.
After the mill closed, the area had been slated to become an industrial subdivision but hundreds in the community have pushed for other uses, said City Councilman Gary Okino, who represents the area.
"It was a long time coming," Okino said. He said the bankruptcy of a former landowner, environmental cleanup of the old mill site and structural problems with earlier roads all slowed progress.
Claire Tamamoto, president of the 'Aiea Community Association, said the roads open up various possibilities. After years of resisting industrial uses, she said people have a chance to work toward what they do want to see in their community.
Tamamoto sees this as a way to once again focus people on the future.
"We need to get going and rejuvenate the community again," she said, after the community came out strongly against putting industrial in a residential area flanked by schools.
"It's going to be a great community area," Okino said. "There's a park in the center," he said, and plans for a future location of a community center, new public library and a senior living facility.
Hannemann told about 100 people who gathered for the dedication that the move was a step forward. "The community will be very involved in whatever plans are in store for the future of the old 'Aiea Sugar Mill site," he said.
The latest roads were built by developer Bank of Hawaii to city standards and were transferred to the city after the City Council approved the move at its August meeting.
"It marks the beginning of a new phase," Tamamoto said.
Tamamoto cautioned that everyone needs to be careful now that there will be more cars and a mix of children and others walking in the area.
The older surrounding neighborhood does not have sidewalks, but she hopes that will change.
"We're hoping that the city will install sidewalks for the safety of the pedestrians," Tamamoto said.
Reach Robbie Dingeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.