Caldwell Defends Playground At Ala Moana Beach Park, Calls Opponents 'Heartless'

Sep 6, 2019

While showing off the new renovations at Ala Moana Beach Park on Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell slammed critics of his plan to add a playground to the park.

Caldwell unveiled his nine-point initiative to renovate Ala Moana Beach Park in 2015. The improvements have been ongoing, with a newly renovated bathroom with entry security cameras now available for public use. Beach park’s roads are being repaved as well.

But one of the most contentious parts of the mayor’s renovation plan is a playground that aims to include disabled children with accessible equipment.

“You’d think a playground would be appropriate for this park, particularly one for those with physical challenges,” he told reporters at press conference at the beach park.

“There are people who I believe are heartless who have no children themselves who somehow say let them play on the beach . . . it’s cruel to say go play in the sand.”

Those opposing the playground think that it would take away green space from community use and say its environmental impact is unclear.

“Although he’s asking for input, we’ve been giving him input for 4 1/2 years,” said Audrey Lee from Malama Moana, a group that opposes the playground.

She emphasized that the playground is not an issue over disabled children.

“It just sounds like the mayor is trying to get people upset about people who wouldn’t want a playground, especially an inclusive playground,” she said.

“Many of us have children and grandchildren and we have family members and friends we know who have disabilities or have children with disabilities. It’s not against anything like that.”

Honolulu City Council members passed a resolution in August ordering a third environmental impact statement for the park plan following community opposition.

A final enivronmental impact statement was released on Aug. 23.

The final enivronmental impact statement differs from the previously issued draft impact statements because there is no public comment period.

In order for an final environmental impact statement to be accepted, the accepting authority, in this case, Caldwell must affirm that the statement met the proper standards.

People can can challenge the acceptablitlity of the final document in court within 60 days.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated there was a 60 day period to submit public comments.