Demonstrators waving signs along Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa yesterday said they are worried about the precedent a developer would set if he is allowed to convert unused city park land into commercial real estate.
Dozens wore red shirts and held signs while encouraging motorists to stop and sign a petition against the project.
Peter Cole of the Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition said the 4 acres across the street from Haleiwa Beach Park were obtained through eminent domain for park use more than 40 years ago and should be reserved for that purpose.
"That’s immoral," he said of the possible sale. "They shouldn’t be selling park land that you designate for park use."
He said it’s the first time he’s heard of the city selling park land to a private developer, which could pave the way for others to do the same.
"We’re going to need as much park land as we can get," he said.
Developer D.G. "Andy" Anderson plans to build an 80-room boutique hotel on land where Jameson’s By The Sea restaurant sits. For the project, he also plans to purchase the undeveloped city park land next to Jameson’s.
Some beachgoers use the property for parking, but a large part of it is about 5 feet below street level, marshy, with a swamp, and covered in tall grass.
Anderson said the city evaluated the land and found that it would be too costly to develop it into a park, classifying it as a remnant parcel.
He argued that his purchase of the property would not set a precedent because the city can sell only remnant parcels of park land, not land that can be developed at a reasonable price. He will present his plan to the North Shore Neighborhood Board on Tuesday.
The city also would require him to add about $800,000 in improvements to that property, including 30 public parking stalls and walkways, he said. He added that he would create a 2-acre private park on the lot to be managed by a nonprofit for public use.
The park’s private status would avoid the situation at Velzyland farther up the North Shore, where, in conjunction with a housing project, Anderson made $3 million in improvements for a road to the beach park, he said. The city has kept the road closed for about eight years because it has no money for a lifeguard, he said.
Some demonstrators said their goal is to save the overgrown land and possibly get city permission for volunteers to turn it into a park.
Beachgoers also supported the petition, including Roy Antolin, who came from Waianae at 6 a.m. to set up a tent and enjoy the quiet at Haleiwa Beach.
"This is a landmark, Haleiwa," he said. "There’s a certain feeling to the North Shore."
Along Kamehameha Highway, Ewa Beach resident Orion Adamson, 16, held a sign and cheered at honking motorists. Adamson said after competing in North Shore surf contests, he wants to keep Haleiwa an icon of surfing and not of hotels.
"It’s just a vibe about it," he said of the community. "It’s really good. We only have so much resources here and when you take that away, it kind of affects everything."