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Controversial Playground Moving To Kaka'ako From Ala Moana

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An inclusive playground planned at Ala Moana Regional Park will instead be built in Kaka'ako Makai Gateway Park, the group that lobbied for the project announced Saturday.

Pa'ani Kakou, a nonprofit that has sought the playground using private funding, said in a statement that several factors contributed to the location change, including the recent transfer of the Kaka'ako park to the city from state, the nearby Children's Discovery Center and available parking space.

“We’re looking forward to bringing this vital community project to reality,” said Tiffany Vara, Pa‘ani Kakou executive director in a news release. “This will be O‘ahu’s first inclusive playground for all children of all abilities, including the 1 in 7 children who today don’t have a playground designed with their needs in mind.”

The switch to a new location for the playground was signaled earlier this week when Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he was willing to reach a compromise in the controversy over the playground's location.

Caldwell had defended the Ala Moana park site although some community groups continued to raise objections, pointing in part to Pa?ani Kakou's ties to residents and the developers of the luxury condominium Park Lane. The condo is located across from the park.

The mayor had called opponents "heartless," but represenatives of opposing groups said they don’t object to a playground but rather want to keep Ala Moana's open spaces.

Last month, the City Council passed a resolution urging the administration to look into alternative sites for the playground. 

The group said the Kaka'ako playground will include active and quiet play zones, ADA-compliant family bathroom facilities with adult-sized changing tables and a concession. Plans also call for a perimeter fence, park ranger office and Honolulu Police Department comfort station.

Pa‘ani Kakou said it will raise funding for the inclusive playground through a planned public-private partnership with the city. 

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