Mayor’s office, Waimanalo Park renovation opponents disagree on park findings

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is planning to cut back on master plans for a renovation of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.

The City of Honolulu now only plans to go forward of construction of phase 1 of the plan, which includes a multi-field sports complex, an 11 stall parking lot, a playground, and planting trees.

The project is slated to cost just south of $1.5 million, $300,000 of which has already been spent.

Opponents of the city’s plans to renovate the park have gathered on consecutive days to voice their concerns over development.

Monday evening they met at the Waimanalo neighborhood board meeting. Sunday the group Save Our Sherwoods met in front of the park to hold a vigil for what they call the potential desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site.

The Mayor’s Office refuted those claims today in statement.

“This is incorrect.  In 1971, UH Professor Pierson found two burials within the boundaries of Waimānalo Bay Beach Park that were left in place.  Pierson’s work was far removed from the current project (see attached Previous Testing Map).  In 1978 archaeologist David Cox found one burial and a single mandible (jaw) that were left in place.  One of these findings is near the waterline excavations, but archaeological monitoring will ensure that these remains are not further disturbed.  In 1991, 22 sets of human remains that were from the Bellows Sand Dune Area were reinterred in a burial vault in the southern end of the park, far removed from the current project area (see attached Previous Testing Map).    Monitoring of the site has been conducted for the current project and no human remains have been found.”

The Mayor’s Office also released this map of burial sites, which the renovation’s Environmental Assessment says “The Master Plan improvements have been designed to be located away from archaeologically sensitive areas and Archaeological Inventory Survey work is recommended at the time of detailed design.”

Opponents disagree with this and argue that the city is wrong in stating that the park is no longer considered to be within a National Register of Historical Places.

“The area of Sherwood Forest that they are developing is on the National Registry of Historic Places currently, the state registry of historic places currently, and the city and county registry of historic places currently.” Save Our Sherwoods representative Maureen Harnisch said.

“They didn’t deny that. The Bellows Field is something inside the registry. So is Sherwood Forest.”

The city disagrees.

“This is incorrect.” the city said.

“The southern edge of the National Register site boundary stops at the boundary between the Bellows Air Field and the Waimānalo Bay Beach Park.”

Opponents are also upset that the city plans to use herbicides on areas of the park that are paved with asphalt. The city argues that they will only use herbicides under applicable laws.

District Councilmember Ikaika Anderson wants Mayor Caldwell to pause the construction of phase 1 of the project.

“I understand The Mayor’s position to finish phase 1 and I respect his position.” Anderson said.

“I respectfully disagree. I did ask Mayor Caldwell on multiple times and it’s well known that I did ask Mayor Caldwell multiple times to pause phase 1. I personally feel that the Waimanalo Bay Beach Park master plan is a solid plan that was adequately, more than adequately vetted in the community. But that said there are many in the community, there’s a sizable segment of the community, that feels otherwise and I respect those voices and those positions. So, to give those folks some time to talk story and to give all of us as a community some time to talk story I feel we should pause at this point, and I wish the mayor would hear that.”

The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for a planned date of construction.

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