Correction: A previous version of this web story had the incorrect name of who introduced the initial master plan. The web story has been corrected.
HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was a controversial city project that has drawn out protestors and prompted arrests, but now development plans for Hunananiho Park formerly named Waimanalo Bay Beach Park have officially been put to rest.
After three years of legal battles between the city and a group of concerned citizens who together formed the “Friends of Sherwood Forest,” both parties have reached a settlement in the lawsuit, with the city agreeing to stop the project.
Check out more news from around Hawaii
The initial master plan for the area was introduced by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell; they proposed sports fields, walkways and additional campgrounds.
Mitch Werth, a retired attorney, was a plaintiff in the lawsuit. He said this is a win for the community that fought to preserve the land.
Werth said, “It was a fight all the time, don’t flatten out this, don’t destroy the iwi, leave it alone, just remove the road and the little debris around the edges and we stuck to that point.”
He said the Waimanalo community was shocked when heavy machinery flattened portions of the undisturbed land.
The city said the terms of the settlement are to preserve the natural beauty of the park. A spokesperson for Mayor Blangiardi’s office said, “The Blangiardi administration has always been and remains committed to ending attempts to develop the area and therefore agreed to a settlement with the Friends of Sherwood Forest to resolve a lawsuit that was filed to stop the project.”
Werth said areas that were flattened two years ago have been able to grow back.
Werth added, “Well once they remove the gravel everything can start growing because within a year or two years it’s going to look like it does right in here.”
For the Friends of Sherwood Forest, this settlement gives them peace of mind, especially with the city ceasing its Special Management Area Permit. This is a state permit that is not simple to get as part of the Shoreline Protection Act, meant to protect land like the Sherwood Forest.
“Now we feel good because before anybody could do anything with this land they have to go through an environmental impact statement,” Werth said. “They have to come to the community. It has to go from ground zero before they can do anything.”
We’re Hawaii’s weather station, get the latest forecast and radar information here
The City will inform the community 30 days before clean-up of the gravel road begins, a start date has not been shared yet.