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Caldwell outlines improvements at Ala Moana Regional Park, including the Hawaiian Pond

Nina Wu
                                Honolulu officials are repairing canal walls and replacing bridges at Ala Moana Regional Park.
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Honolulu officials are repairing canal walls and replacing bridges at Ala Moana Regional Park.

The eroded, muddy banks of the Hawaiian Pond at Ala Moana Regional Park are being fixed and improved, according to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

In addition to stabilizing the pond’s shoreline with pre-cast concrete material and crushed coral, the city’s $2 million contract with Hawaiian Dredging Construction includes repairs to the central bridge, a new seating area and a new, lighted walkway connecting it to park pathways.

Work on the project near the Atkinson Drive entrance began in October. When bridge repairs and the new walkway are completed this summer, it should become a much more inviting place, the mayor said.

“Hopefully, more people will come here now,” he said during an afternoon press conference at the park.

It is just one of numerous improvements made to Ala Moana — a heavily used park in Honolulu — over the past eight years, according to Caldwell, and among his last as mayor.

Improvements to the Japanese Pond on the Ewa end of the park are next, which also include stabilizing the shoreline and a new, natural-style pagoda.

Both ponds were originally constructed as flood control basins for storm water drainage.

In addition to replacing the park lights with more energy-efficient LEDs, the Magic Island parking lot was repaved and recently reopened along with an improved McCoy Pavilion, and a new sand volleyball court.

More than 300 new trees of various species have been planted, pathways repaved and new security cameras installed.

Another $4.6 million contract has been awarded to Kaiko Corp. to replace two pedestrian bridges and repair damaged drainage canal walls.

Roughly 900 feet of the drainage canal bwetween the Japanese Pond and tennis courts are to be repaired or replaced, according to city officials, including a portion that collapsed in 2016.

The two pedestrian bridges over the drainage canal — one near Queen Street and the other near Piikoi Street — will be replaced with wider ones that align with the crosswalks on Ala Moana.

The existing bridges are about 10 feet wide. The new one near Queen Street will be twice as wide, or 20 feet, officials said, while the one near Piikoi Street will be 30 feet wide.

“So people who cross will be able to cross right into the park,” said Caldwell at the press conference. “It’s about people having access, not just by driving in the two ends of the park by accessing the park in the middle and being able to walk in and not have to drive in and fight for parking.”

Both will feature abutments with art deco features to match the rest of the park and preserve the park’s architectural integrity, Caldwell said. In addition, there will be bollards on the new bridges, so that only pedestrians can cross them.

That project is scheduled to be done by the winter of 2021.

Earlier plans to remove parking for a pedestrian-friendly promenade, add a dog park and build a world-class, inclusive playground on one acre at Ala Moana were met with resistance by community groups. The Historic Hawaii Foundation also expressed concerns about the cumulative effect of new construction on the park’s historic, open space and spatial relationships.

Pa‘ani Kakou, the group advocating for the newly proposed playground, agreed last year to move the playground from Ala Moana to Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The revised plans for the playground were all made prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of this year.

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