Paʻani Kakou Plans To Move Controversial Playground To Kakaʻako

Dec 13, 2019

An alternate site for a controversial children's playground in Honolulu will likely become a reality, as the group funding the project is holding a press conference Saturday in Kakaʻako.

Updated December 13, 12 PM

A press release from Paʻani Kakou, the nonprofit funding the playground, indicates it will announce plans to move a controversial children's playground from Ala Moana Regional Park to Kakaʻako Makai Gateway Park, adjacent to the Children's Discovery Center.

The proposed playground will be the first inclusive playground for children in the state.

Earlier this week, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he was willing to reach a compromise over the proposed playground at Ala Moana Regional Park that he has staunchly defended.

"I'm always open to compromise," said Caldwell. "I'm a person who is trying to find ways to make things happen."

The playground's original location was widely criticized by community groups and residents because Paʻani Kakou has ties to residents and the developers of the luxury condominium Park Lane. The condo is located across from the park.

Caldwell's comments are a change from his previous stance on the playground's location, which he has supported despite community opposition. Caldwell says his position was based on the park's heavy usage.

"It is an appropriate place for it because we're putting it where a lot of people go," Caldwell said. "And we want it to be successful because, if it works, we would like to do it some more."

Last month, the City Council passed a resolution urging the administration to look for alternative sites for the playground in the Kakaʻako area. The measure came in response to an outcry from community groups and residents who say they don’t oppose the playground, but want to keep the park’s open spaces.

Critics have also suggested the playground would serve the wealthy owners of units in Kakaʻako high-rises that have sprung up in recent years.

News of the playground's new location has been met with positive reactions from both community groups and Caldwell.

"It is great news that these community groups have worked together to reach a compromise on the inclusive playground," he said.