Waterfront Site Proposed For Obama Library

Published On: May 09 2011 05:54:39 AM HST   Updated On: May 09 2011 08:58:53 PM HST

A team of University of Hawaii, state and private business leaders have begun a campaign to bring the Barack Obama Presidential Library to Kakaako, near the waters of Point Panic.

The prime acreage yards from the popular surf spot Kakaako Waterfront Park has been considered for a variety of attractions over the years -- but a presidential library is the most ambitious so far.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who ran Obama?s presidential campaign in Hawaii, is representing the state in the library effort.

?This would be a $300 million or $400 million infusion of capital into the state of Hawaii, if it were to occur, and it would really be a jewel in the Pacific,? Schatz.

Schatz said, like the President Bill Clinton library in Little Rock, Ark., a Barack Obama Library in Hawaii could become an educational magnets, architectural landmark and cultural centerpiece, which he said could attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Among those supporting the idea is Anthony Ching, the director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which has planning jurisdiction over the Kakaako district, which is mostly state-owned land.

?It would be a reason for public gathering,? Ching said. ?And it would be celebration of culture and so it would fit to have also a celebration of an island-born president.

Hawaii?s biggest competition for the library will be Chicago, Obama's adult home and where his political career began. The University of Chicago, where Obama taught law, is reportedly mounting its own bid.

Schatz said the bid must show community excitement and the ability to raise donations worldwide. The project would be funded entirely by private donations.

No one knows what the president thinks about all this because it?s considered very inappropriate for a sitting president to discuss a library location when he hasn't even finished his first term.

?Nobody has the gall to try to interact with the White House about this right now,? Schatz said. ?But that shouldn't prevent us from putting together the best possible bid."

One possible advantage for Hawaii, the president loved body surfing in Hawaii, and Point Panic is one of Oahu?s prime body-surfing locations.


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