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Citing vandalism and vagrancy, Iolani Palace to close its grounds at night


    The grounds of Iolani Palace will be closing 5 hours earlier, at 6 p.m., starting Feb. 1

Iolani Palace State Monument will begin closing its doors at 6 p.m. starting Feb. 1, the Department of Land and Natural Resources announced today, citing nighttime vandalism and vagrancy.

The current hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

DLNR officials said in a news release the move was made “to better protect the sanctity of the palace and preservation of its invaluable buildings and grounds.”

The DLNR’s Division of State Parks consulted with the Friends of Iolani Palace, which has a long-term management lease for the palace, the Coronation Pavilion and the Barracks and determined the change was necessary.

The DLNR blames increasing vandalism over the past several years, including damage to a palace window and graffiti on historic structures.

On Feb. 8, 2014, a 30-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were spotted on surveillance video walking through the Grand Hall of Iolani Palace after allegedly breaking and smashing a 130-year-old glass door. Only the woman, Drew Paahau, was charged with first-degree criminal property damage and burglary. Surveillance cameras captured images of her kicking the door. The incident happened after 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

On June 1, 2017, a 57-year-old man, Michael Aquino, was indicted for breaking etched glass panes of three doors more than 100 years old at the palace, as well as breaking a glass door at the state Capitol. Both incidents occurred before 5:15 p.m. on a Sunday.

Aquino was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to felony criminal property damage for the Iolani Palace damage with a metal pipe.

Curt Cottrell, Division of State Parks administrator, said in a written statement that nighttime vagrancy and items such as hypodermic needles left on the grass, are reasons for the early closure. He said earlier closure is expected to eliminate the potential for vandalism and vagrancy. The security staff currently must wait until 11 p.m. to remove anyone on the grounds for “illicit nighttime use.”

The discarded drug paraphernalia is offensive litter in a national historic landmark, officials said. The palace received the landmark designation in 1962.

The revised hours are in line with that of the Diamond Head State Monument and closer to the Royal Mausoleum State Monument’s hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

DLNR officials remind the public that animals (leashed or unleashed) except for service, guide or signal animals, are only allowed by permit. Use of the grounds is allowed by permit only and is issued by State Parks or through a Friends of Iolani Palace-hosted event.

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