Caldwell Tweets: 'We Are Not Building Sports Complex In Waimanalo'

Sep 26, 2019

Updated: Sept. 26, 4:42 p.m.

In the wake of the arrest of 28 protesters Thursday blocking access to Waimanalo Bay Beach Park that officials wanted to redevelop, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted the city won't build a sports complex planned in the Sherwood Forest area.

Protesters started gathering early Thursday in anticipation of construction equipment and crews returning to the beach park.

Police spokesperson Michelle Yu says the protesters were arrested without incident at the entrance to the the Waimanalo park. She says they were booked for obstructing a highway or public passageway. They were released after each posting $100 bail.

Opponents say the city's $32 million redevelopment project in unneeded and unwanted. They also say it will increase traffic and displace a native bat, among other concerns.

Hawaii News Now reports the park renovation project had widespread support when plans were first announced a decade ago. The project has gained opposition this year.

The morning scene with protesters singing, crying and sitting on the ground facing police echoes an ongoing protest on Hawaii's tallest mountain. Protesters are at Mauna Kea blocking construction of a giant telescope.

But in a late afternoon tweet, the mayor said the city won't carry out the rest of the master plan for the park, including a sports complex.

Caldwell told reporters earlier in the day that he isn't concerned protests against the city's plans to redevelop a park will turn into an Oahu version of demonstrations against the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island.

Caldwell says Thursday's arrests at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park were different from the dozens of arrests on Mauna Kea, where protesters are blocking construction of the telescope.

Opponents say the Oahu project will increase traffic and disturb ancient Hawaiian burials.

As a compromise, Caldwell's administration is only proceeding with the first phase of the project, which includes a playground and parking stalls. He says it's in an area that isn't near any burials.

Caldwell says the arrests happened respectfully and peacefully.