Great Lawn’s Plan Spawns Great Talk

Though public dialogue is far from over on The Great Lawn/Strip Mall proposals, Hawaii Kai residents had the ear of landowners and a potential anchor tenant for nearly two hours March 21 in a packed school cafeteria.

Toward the end of the town hall meeting sponsored by area lawmakers, Kamehameha Schools (KS) officials promised “to do the process together,” and Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board invited everyone to a key meeting of the board’s planning and environmental committees to further examine the issues.

That meeting is at 6 p.m. April 8 at Hawaii Kai Library with an agenda heavy on planning and zoning impacts, the East Oahu Sustainable Communities Plan and cemetery stockpiling in Kamilonui Valley.

At the forum, meanwhile, it seemed that everyone was a KS alum or related to one, and they all loved Foodland – but loved their great lawn’s green space even more.

The Kuapa Village concept promoted by KS would bring Foodland back to the area as an anchor tenant, add other retail activity, bike and walking paths, and a dog park. Opponents prefer the 4.5-acre great lawn (across the highway from Maunalua Bay) remain as is with only minor enhancements, such as a boardwalk and canoe hale. Both sides touted opinion surveys supporting their stance.

Kalama Village Center, Koko Marina’s old Block-buster space – and even the JAIMS campus – were suggested as homes for a supermarket, but Foodland’s Roger Wall explained that shopper convenience and smaller size ruled out other sites.

“They could (actually) make it a great lawn,” said NB chairman Greg Knudsen, noting its preservation zoning. “And it’s in a tsunami zone, which is no place to build, and violates the current sustainable communities plan.”

“We’re not anti-development,” said Livable Hawaii Kai Hui’s Ann Marie Kirk, “just pro open space.”

At the end of the heated talk, state Sen. Laura Thielen advised that the planning process only works if people testify to the City Council at each step: 1) speak out on the sustainable communities plan, 2) speak out on the zoning changes, and 3) speak out at the building permits stage. “Don’t wait for the specific plans (to emerge),” she told the crowd. “The time to weigh in is now.”

“We’re open and truly will look at alternatives,” added KS area development director Susan Todani, “and we are four years away from doing anything.”