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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 14, 2010

Friends of He'eia back off, for now

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state has announced that Kama'aina Kids will begin management of He'eia State Park today, but the previous operators still claim rights to run the park.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said that the Friends of He'eia, who managed the park buildings for 26 years, dismissed their request for a preliminary injunction on Monday, thereby allowing Kama'aina Kids to move in.

However, the attorney for the Friends said the court claim was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the issue could be raised again.

"We have made it clear that we continue to claim the right of occupancy," said Tony Locricchio, attorney for the Friends. "We are moving out under protest."

The Friends of He'eia, who ran cultural and environmental programs at the park, recently lost a bid to continue leasing the property. But they had paid rent for the property until September and pressed the issue in court, winning a temporary restraining order.

Kama'aina Kids, one of the largest childcare organizations in the state, was told it could assume management of the 18-acre park on April 27.

State DLNR enforcement officers closed the park that day and tried to move the Friends out.

Locricchio claims he was assaulted and battered when a DLNR official shoved a door into him.

"They acted outside their authority," Locricchio said. "That is the basis for the Friends not being at the park because of the threats of physical harm."

He said he is reviewing federal options.

In a press release announcing the change of management yesterday, the DLNR said Kama'aina Kids would work toward honoring all current reservations for the park's banquet hall.

Laura H. Thielen, DLNR director, thanked the Friends.

"We look forward to continuing services for the public, improved maintenance and operations of the park with Kama'aina Kids to maintain ongoing programs and services for the community and management of this important cultural resource," Thielen said.