Mauka sidewalk of Thomas Square iback open to pedestrian traffic

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: May 01 2013 05:10:00 PM HST

The city's effort to clean up public areas took a big step with the reclaiming of the mauka border of Thomas Square.

HONOLULU -

The city's effort to clean up public areas took a big step on Wednesday. After nearly six hundred days of tents and tarp on the mauka sidewalk of Thomas Square, the walkway is finally back open to pedestrian traffic, flanked by pink hibiscus and newly planted hedges.

"It is a special place and there's been, I think, a great amount of disrespect here at this park. It's about restoring this park to its previous dignity," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The mayor said orange fencing will remain to give the grass and keiki hedges a chance to grow before next month's observance of the 170th anniversary of Thomas Square.

"We would drive by and be distracted by the tents and such and not even know there was this beautiful place to come to, so we would keep on driving. It's made such a difference to even see the plants," said Grace Salzer.

The King Street sidewalk is still blocked off as crews even out the concrete. For now, Occupiers have moved to the area fronting the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
 
The sidewalk on the makai side of Thomas Square on King St. is scheduled to open next month. Meanwhile, Occupy Honolulu protesters continue to visit the park every day.

"By moving us around it's bringing more attention to the actual issues that we see on the street, that there's a homeless problem," said Chris Smith with Occupy Honolulu.

The city said it's going to ramp up its enforcement crews and extend hours of cleaning up tents and abandoned belongings in all public spaces.

"We have to walk on the other side just to get by all these people, so what do we do, we are going to stand up to them," said Kahale Minor.

City Parks and Facility maintenance officials say the cleanups of public areas, which are now scheduled twice a month, will be stepped up to about once a week.

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