Column: Many in the community support Ala Moana park playground
I hope the city-supported playground at Ala Moana Beach Park is built this year. I hope the playground is built this month in time for summer!
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I hope the city-supported playground at Ala Moana Beach Park is built this year. I hope the playground is built this month in time for summer! And I want it to be even bigger, with an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course challenge, which cities like Golden Valley, Minn. have built (worth a google).
Let me put it plainly: I am just a father of two sons who thinks this playground is a great idea. I am not alone. I am not a rich developer. I won’t make any money off this playground being built. I just want it built, and I want it built now.
I have had more discussions with more people involved in this playground issue than just about anyone, and the vast majority of the anti-playground arguments are grounded in misleading, straw-man arguments about “evil” developers — as if building homes and bringing investment to Hawaii is the worst thing a person could do on Earth.
At the last City Council hearing on this, when Councilmember Kymberly Pine asked one of the opponents if she would be willing to discuss a compromise with the playground supporters, she responded with something along the lines of “No, we don’t really want to talk to them.” That kind of obstructionist sentiment is a red flag and tells me the playground opponents are using this argument as some sort of proxy for a different fight. Well, they should go have that fight over something else and leave this awesome playground out of it.
The only reasonable objection to the playground, in my view, is that after private donors build it for free for the city, the city will have to maintain the playground. I think it is perfectly legitimate for the city to push the backers of the playground to fundraise for a long-term warranty on the playground that can be purchased up-front from the manufacturer. I’ll even volunteer to negotiate the warranty and help fundraise to pay for it.
But even if my tax dollars go to the maintenance of the playground, I would still want it to be built. We spend a lot of money around here on less-worthy causes than this. This playground will become a shining jewel of Ala Moana Beach Park. Twenty years after it is built, everyone will have forgotten that there was ever a time people opposed building such a fantastic playground — just like we have all forgotten that Ala Moana Beach Park is man-made, or whether anyone objected when we built tennis courts and a lawn bowling club inside the beach park.
A recent column by David Shapiro about this inclusive Ala Moana playground that the city favors was misleadingly one-sided, entirely designed to convince a reader that the “community” really did not want it (“Posh Ala Moana play area zip-lining to fast approval,” Volcanic Ash, May 19). He failed to mention the petition I have going in support of the playground — and that I mention in my oral and written testimony — which, in the past two months, has gathered more than 100 taxpaying signatories with more than 130 kids between them, and continues to grow (see tinyURL.com/PlaygroundsRock).
Shapiro’s bias allowed no discussion of the conflicting ideas, hopes and dreams the playground discussion draws out. His June 2 column is more honestly opposed, but also admits that the playground is being used as a proxy for other issues (“Ala Moana Playground plan a poor fit for historic park”). If this project fails, the ones who suffer will be the special-needs kids with no playground.
There are members of the community, including many parents with young kids like me, who love the idea and have no prior connection to the nonprofit supporting the project or to the mayor. We want the playground built — as far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better.
Samuel Wilder King II is an attorney practicing law in Honolulu.