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APEC security causes worry among school soccer teams

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 6:59 p.m. HST, Oct 20, 2011

Concerns about heightened security and traffic congestion during November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Waikiki are prompting the Interscholastic League of Honolulu to try to move more than 50 teams and hundreds of soccer players from Kapiolani Park to the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.

The move will require shuttling more than 50 ILH boys and girls intermediate, junior varsity and varsity soccer teams across Oahu during rush hour traffic to get to the Waipahu-area complex for practices and matches, which normally start at 4:15 p.m., said Jim Bukes, who coordinates soccer programs for the ILH.

The effort is pre-emptive because no closing of parks, beaches or waterways during APEC have been mentioned. But Bukes said he needs to make plans that will affect hundreds of players.

"I have a schedule to make," Bukes said. "We're talking about (the possibility of) releasing kids earlier and earlier from school because they've got to get out there" to Waipio.

Security will be particularly tight in Waikiki for the weekend of Nov. 12 and 13, when President Barack Obama and the leaders of 21 other APEC nations will be in town. But security and traffic congestion are expected to ease when most of the leaders leave on Nov. 13.

Bukes, who is also state coordinator for girls soccer for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, said city parks and recreation officials are being "very accommodating to the (ILH) league and to the state association. We may not prefer to move, but it's the nature of the beast."

About a dozen adult and youth canoe clubs and a dozen more ILH and Oahu Interscholastic Association canoe teams plan to move their November practice sessions from the Ala Wai Canal to Keehi Lagoon and Sand Island because of the APEC conference, said Luana Froiseth, vice president of the Waikiki Surf Club.

A CITY PERMIT shared with the Star-Advertiser by a different canoe club for use of the Ala Wai Canal in November says canoe clubs "may" be prohibited from getting to their halau and practices because of APEC.

Partly as a result of the November canoe club permit, word has erroneously spread via email to various park users that city officials are shutting down all parks from Ala Moana to the Ala Wai Canal to Kapiolani Park to Kaimana Beach Park out of APEC security concerns.

But Gary Cabato, director of the city's parks and recreation department, told the Star-Advertiser, "That's totally inaccurate. I don't know where they get all their information."

Five groups that Cabato declined to identify already have permits to use Kapiolani Park in November, he said.

"Our events continue to go on," he said. "But getting to and from is going to be a problem because traffic is going to be so congested during APEC. So we are encouraging park users to find another venue."

Kapiolani Park is regularly used for rugby, cricket, soccer, softball, cultural festivals, races, parades, "you name it," Cabato said.

However, Cabato said, Secret Service agents who will play a critical security role with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Waikiki for the APEC conference might issue future instructions restricting access to city parks during APEC.

Secret Service officials have declined to discuss APEC security plans.

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