Public Comment Period Not Extended Afterall For Ala Moana Beach Park Project
Updated: March 25, 2019, 7:22 p.m.
Plans to extend the period for public comment on a proposal to renovate Ala Moana Regional Park hit a roadblock tonight. Earlier in the day, the City Council's Parks, Community Services and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee provided an update on the project, and heard testimony from residents, some of whom objected to aspects of the proposal.
The city initially said it would extend the time for public feedback on the project's second draft environmental statement to April 8, a two-week extension.
But Managing Director Roy Amemiya said in a statement tonight, that the project consultant contacted the Office of Environmental Quality Control and learned the extension is not allowed.
"We apologize for the miscommunication and encourage the public to provide their comments by 11:59PM tonight," Amemiya said in statement. The city "is willing to accept comments on the project after March 25, 2019, though they will not be incorporated into the 2nd Draft EIS," he added.
Honolulu City Councilmembers and residents are asking Mayor Kirk Caldwell to reconsider the redevelopment plan that calls for changes to the park's vehicle stalls layout, sand replenishment and two dog parks.
Two environmental impact statements for the Ala Moana Park project had been released to the public for comment by tonight, but critics called for an extension due to the length and complexity of the documents.
There were also concerns about the effectiveness of the EIS process. Some questioned the second environmental statement, released last month, that did not address any public comments or concerns from the first EIS.
"What we discovered is that from the initial preparation notice, the one comment was build a playground. And that has ballooned into this world-class children's playground," said Diane Choy Fujimura of the Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui. "There's been no public vetting, and there has to be."
According to Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, he was approached by representatives from The Kobayashi Group and the Make-A-Wish Foundation in regards to an ADA compliant children's playground. He stated he supports the project, but was not told of the planned location for it. Anderson called for City administration to hear out community concerns relating to the project.
The Kobayashi Group, which is donating the playground, partnered with The McNaughton Group to develop a luxury condominium across from the park.
In an earlier statement, Amemiya strongly defended the playground, saying the placement of it near restrooms and a food concession is an ideal location.
More information about the Ala Moana Regional Park Improvement Plan can be found on the Department of Parks and Recreation website.
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated the Make-A-Wish Foundation was donating the children's playground. In fact, The Kobayashi Group is donating it.