About 200 people showed up at the Waialua Community Association last night to hear more about plans to build a boutique hotel on 3.4 acres of city land that has remained undeveloped for more than 40 years.
The North Shore Neighborhood Board held the meeting to continue a hearing canceled in September when an audience member opposed to the plans refused to quiet down. Peter Cole, representing the Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition, apologized for his outburst at the previous meeting, garnering applause.
Cole then said the land should remain public because it was meant to be an extension of the popular Haleiwa Beach Park.
"If it’s good enough for a hotel, it’s clearly good enough for the public who owns the property," he said.
Hotel developer D.G. "Andy" Anderson spoke before Cole to say he expected to be praised for trying to build a $20 million, 80-room replica of the historic Haleiwa Hotel.
"This hotel was Haleiwa," Anderson told the audience in the gymnasium. "The name of the Haleiwa town came from the hotel."
He reiterated that he thought he could fit the hotel on the property of the restaurant Jameson’s by the Sea, which he owns, but found it would not fit. He said if he can’t build the hotel set back on the property with all the "grandeur" of the original hotel, he will not build it.
He added he respects the idea to not sell the public lands, but said doing so would put 110 people to work and put people through school.
"We think it’s needed," he said. "We think it’ll fit. We’re not going to destroy it, Haleiwa. We happen to believe it’s going to enhance Haleiwa."
The city obtained the land more than 40 years ago by eminent domain to develop Haleiwa Regional Park, but the plan never materialized.
Kamehameha Schools also has an interest in the property for educational purposes. Representative Giorgio Calderone said the school would like to build a 2-acre park with parking on the land, which has access to the school’s Loko Ea Fishpond, where the school conducts educational workshops.
Gary Cabato, acting director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said the city would listen to concerns and forward them to the mayor for a "good decision."
"We’re here to determine if the land is going to be sold and to whom it’s going to be sold, but there’s also the process," he said. "It disheartens me when I see a community torn apart."
He said the city’s position remains that the land includes wetlands and is "not viable for park extension" since it would cost millions to develop into a park.
The mayor and City Council must decide what happens to the land, a process that could take at least six months by one estimate.
Pupukea resident Larry McElheny said Anderson promised to build a replica of the old hotel, but it turns out his plan is more than two times larger than the old hotel.
"He’s not telling us the entire truth," he said.
Several people supported Anderson’s plan, including one woman who said: "I think it’s a beautiful hotel. I think it’s elegant.
"I’m just sorry that everybody can’t see more eye to eye on this," she said.
Council member Ernest Martin, who represents Haleiwa, said he still wants to hear more about both proposals before making a decision.
North Shore Neighborhood Board Chairman Mike Lyons said the board hasn’t decided whether it will support either development plan.