Among proposed improvements at Ala Moana Regional Park are a widened walkway fronting the beach, more grass across the sprawling campus and new nonvehicular entry at the end of Piikoi Street.
In advance of a public meeting and open-house event, set to get underway at 6 p.m. Thursday at the park’s McCoy Pavilion, maps and renderings detailing ideas for the conceptual plan can be found at ouralamoanapark.com. Comments can also be submitted on the website.
What the public says about the conceptual plan will be taken into consideration when a master plan for the long-term future of the 119-acre park is drafted later this year, city officials said.
Chris Dacus, an executive assistant for the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the overwhelming sentiment expressed by people who’ve offered input so far is that they want Ala Moana’s character to be preserved.
THE HISTORY OF ALA MOANA PARK
The onetime dump site is deeded to the city by the Territory of Hawaii.
President Franklin Roosevelt dedicates the entry portals to the new Ala Moana Park.
A sand beach is constructed.
The city decides to use Magic Island exclusively for recreational purposes.
McCoy Pavilion is built.
“Someone coming to the park when this plan is implemented many years in the future won’t see much of a difference in the character and sense of place of the park,” Dacus said.
But an overhaul is critical for the busy park because it has been neglected for decades, he said, pointing out that three previous master plans were largely ignored.
The draft conceptual plan that’s being presented consists of the most popular ideas offered by the public and then formalized by Biederman Redevelopment Ventures and Associates and its subcontractors. Biederman was given a three-year, $1.2 million contract last year to oversee the master plan.
One proposal now being considered calls for doing away with most of the parking along the makai side of Ala Moana Park Drive and using that footage to double the width of the sidewalk, thereby creating what city officials describe as a “destination promenade.”
The broader sidewalk would also allow the city to plant more trees and install more benches along the path, Dacus said. The wall separating the sand from the sidewalk would remain in place.
Many of the parking stalls lost along the main drag would instead be relocated to a revamped parking area between McCoy Pavilion and the lawn bowling area, as well as other areas on the mauka side of the park.
A reconfiguration of parking along the mauka side of Ala Moana Park Drive to angled stalls from parallel stalls would allow more stalls to be placed there, Dacus said.
Another proposal would broaden the recreational space along the two sides of the Magic Island parking lot by reducing the number of stalls in that area to 360 from 431, Dacus said.
The recreational space there is among the most treasured in the park, and the plan would create more space, especially on the marina side, he said. Again, to make up for spaces lost there, additional parking would be provided on the mauka side.
Also in the works is a plan for more grass and trees in the park by installing a “boxed culvert” to cover up the canal that runs parallel to Ala Moana Boulevard.
Such a move, Dacus said, could “increase the grass space in the park substantially.” He added, “We also increase access to the park because at the moment it acts as a moat.”
By covering the canal, the city could remove four smaller bridges that now connect its two sides and are costly to maintain, he said. The double-arched “historic bridge” that was part of the original park design and is tied to the Hawaiian pond on the Diamond Head end of the park would remain, according to the current plan.
The conceptual plan also includes a Piikoi Street entrance that would be open to pedestrians and bicyclists only, Dacus said, noting that the park’s original plan, dating back to the 1930s, also envisioned a Piikoi entrance.
“We realize that in the future, people are going to be using the park differently because of the changing nature of the area,” he said, alluding to the explosive high-rise residential development occurring in Kakaako. “So we’re enhancing the pedestrian connectivity by bringing a whole bunch more mauka-makai paths through the park.”
Another idea is to establish a children’s playground, near the L&L concession, with the help of private funding by community partners, Dacus said. “The city can only do so much at the park,” he said. “So it is important to develop some public-private partnerships to help develop this public space for public use.”
No cost estimates for the proposed improvements will be made until they reach the draft master plan stage this summer, Dacus said. The final master plan, which will require an environmental impact statement, will take about another year to complete.
The city has already begun to implement a nine-point, short-term improvement plan that includes a 2.9-acre exercise path, 40 monkeypod trees along Ala Moana Boulevard, adding new employees including a park ranger unit and stepping up maintenance of comfort stations.
Other short-term improvements that should be underway soon including the installation of two beach volleyball courts and improved irrigation.
Not everyone is happy with the attention the Caldwell administration is devoting to the park.
Council Chairman Ernie Martin has stated several times that too many resources are being devoted to Ala Moana Park when there are major parks throughout the island in need of overhauls. He noted that in his district alone, ball fields in Waialua and Kahuku have lighting systems that haven’t been fixed, while Haleiwa District Park has fallen into disrepair, he said.
But Dacus defended the administration’s actions and noted that Ala Moana’s nickname from its early days has been “the people’s park.”
“Ala Moana Park is the one park that everyone on the island uses,” he said.