Grassroots efforts to save a Kailua bowling alley hit a snag yesterday. Advocates for preserving Pali Lanes attempted to deliver a petition to landowner Alexander and Baldwin but were turned away. HPR’s Ku‘uwehi Hiraishi reports.
Several members of a group called Our Kailua posted up in the lobby of the Alexander and Baldwin headquarters in downtown Honolulu yesterday. The goal was to deliver a petition demanding the developer scrap plans to demolish Pali Lanes, a bowling alley in the heart of Kailua.
“I think that when you have a large developer telling you that, ‘We’re shutting you down.’ You go, ‘Oh, no can do. Ok, well yeah, they’re going to take it away. So there’s not much else that I can really do to preserve it,” says Kailua resident Tekla Weber. “And that’s where we wanna say, ‘No you can, and yes we can.’”
Weber is part of the group spearheaded late last year by her 26-year-old son Evan and several of his friends. The group’s mission is to preserve everything that makes Kailua, Kailua. After a half hour of waiting, the group was approached by security and told that no one is there to receive them, and that the building would be closing in 10 minutes.
“We have over 5,000 names now and it’s important for us and the fact that we want to make a statement,” says Weber, “We want to let Alexander & Baldwin know that all of us care about it and that given more time even more people will care.”
A&B Spokesperson Darren Pai says they’ll consider the petition like they’ve considered everyone else’s feedback.
“We’ve been considering a number of different options including preserving the bowling alley,” says Pai, “However, you know as we did the analysis, we determined that in order to provide the kind of gathering spaces that will really benefit the entire community, we need to redevelop the area.”
A&B bought the property from Kane’ohe Ranch in 2009.
“We have consistently heard over this extended time that we’ve been in Kailua that you know what people really want in the heart of town is some open gathering spaces where people can gather,” says Pai, “So we’re looking at all of these ideas and try to you know gather more feedback as we further develop our plans.”
It’s Wednesday morning at Pali Lanes and nearly all of 24 lanes are occupied. The bowling alley has been a landmark in the Kailua community for more than 50 years.
“Pali Lanes is a mid-century building. It was built in 1961 by Wimberly and Cook for one million dollars,” says Weber, “It was the grand opening, peace day resistance, of Kailua. Every little shop, every grocery store, everybody sent congratulations, and everybody welcomed Pali Lanes.”
Weber has seen a lot of changes in her community over the past 30 years she’s lived there. This fight to preserve the bowling alley is about more than just a bowling alley. It’s a fight to preserve Kailua.
“It’d be wonderful if Alexander and Baldwin would come to the table with us. We’d love to see what transparency really is,” says Weber.
The group will testify at tonight’s Kailua Neighborhood Board Meeting at the Rec Center beginning at 7 p.m.