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Paradise Lost
The Curious Case of Kaupo Beach Park

By Stephen Kelly, editor

The eastern end of Kaupo Beach Park has a steady stream of polluted runoff coming down from the Oceanic Institute's aquaculture farms.
Photos: Andrew Pereira of KHON 2, Oahu
Rain bird
Rain bird
Came America Teak Warehouse

Two Waimanalo, O'ahu residents (also the "residence" of Magnum, P.I.) took the initiative to clean up and enhance Kaupo Beach Park, just off Kalanianaole Highway. The eight-acre site, owned by the state department of Hawaiian Home Lands and leased to Honolulu, was grossly neglected, a dumping ground and overgrown with grasses and kiawe, a species of mesquite. The beach has a nice view of Manana Island, but the park was far from paradise.

The story began three years ago when 'Bolo' Kaahawai, a supervisor at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, and his friend, Andy Jamila, got permission from the parks dept. to clear the overgrown vegetation. Bolo brought in volunteer inmates to help do the work. They also got rid of the trash.

Kaahawai and Jamila were directed by park officials not to build anything in the park, but they built a rock wall terrace, a concrete walkway, installed concrete picnic tables and landscaping, including $30,000 worth of donated sod. No cost to parks and rec, nor to taxpayers.

Kaahawai and Jamila dubbed the park "Kupuna Terrace." Kupuna means honored elder. Kupunas would enjoy sitting on the terrace, the men thought.

The cement tables and stools came from Jamila's nonprofit organization, the Waimanalo Construction Coalition. A plum tree that provided shade was nursed back to heath by Pukiki Tree Service.

Kaupo Beach Park on Oahu was overgrown and a dumping ground until two local residents organized a clean-up, built a rock wall terrace and concrete walkway, placed 11 concrete picnic tables with matching seats and thousands of dollars in landscaping. Unofficially called "Kupuna Terrace," some $50,000 in donations have gone into reviving the park. Park & Rec, however, wants it torn down and has blocked the terrace and posted a "Keep Out" sign.

The park department is pleased and grateful. Just kidding. Officials declared it an "illegal" park that posed a danger and must be torn down!

KHON 2 in Honolulu reports city's department of planning and permitting issued Jamila and Kaahawai a Notice of Violation, which stipulates all work at Kupuna Terrace stop and the land returned to its prior state by March 2.

Returned to its prior state!? Fines of $150 a day against the two men are set to begin March 2.

The city says the men failed to get proper permits and the illegal park poses an environmental hazard because of runoff entering the ocean. The city is also worried about the safety of drivers and pedestrians because of the close proximity of the highway.

Ah, now we see. Instead of dealing with the polluted runoff and safety issues, the parks dept. just decided to ignore the park and let it become a dumping ground that no one would want to visit. Problem solved.

Andrew Pereira of KHON 2 has been following this story for some time, and provided a few images of the improved park to LASN he'd recently taken on his cell phone. He also provided all the background information.

On Feb. 3, Pereira updated the story. City spokeswoman Louise Kim-McCoy told him there was no compromise now, but the men "can correct the violations," i.e., get permits for a shoreline setback, a special management area and grading.

Wouldn't you think that's the job of parks and rec.?

Jamila and Kaahawai say they're willing to do whatever it takes to keep their refurbished park.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Chris Lee is working with the University of Hawaii School of Architecture on how to stabilize the soil surrounding Kupuna Terrace.

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December 6, 2019, 1:05 pm PDT

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