Mother Waldron Park issues raise development questions

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Nov 02 2012 05:22:31 PM HST
Updated On: Nov 02 2012 07:21:05 PM HST

The impact of the rail project on Mother Waldron Park is investigated.

HONOLULU -

A federal judge has raised questions about the impacts of the city's rail project would affect a park now on the National Register of Historic places.

During the day  Mother Waldron Park  is a playground for charter school students, but it is also home to illegal campers.

A rendering of  the area includes proposed guideway columns and the train running overhead.  It is how the city envisions the area since the rail route runs on Halekauwila.

Plans for rail and the vertical development around it dovetail into Kakaako's masterplan for affordable housing, along with luxury condos.

"We are going to see a lot of development in the next 20 years in that corridor. Hopefully if we do it the right way, this is going to be alot closer to where the second city is, closer to downtown," said Rep. Tom Brower who represents Kakaako and Ala Moana.

The state is proposing to develop what will be the tallest highrise, Pohukaina 690 right next to Mother Waldron Park.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, the agency that oversees the area says the development still makes sense, with, or without rail.

Some believe it’s unlikely the route would change to go more mauka to Beretania Street.

"I personally would like it.  I live here on Beretania.  I would use it.  It would be easier for me to use rail if it were on Beretania," said Rep. Karl Rhoades.

PHOTOS: Who is Mother Waldron?

Mother Waldron Park History

The park is named for Margaret Waldron, who in the 1930s was a school teacher and director of the nearby Atkinson Park.

She was known as the "saint of Kakaako" credited with turning Kakaako youth gang members into law abiding citizens through her playground work.

 The 1.7 acre park and play ground is on the National Register of Historic places not only for Margaret Waldron, but also for the design of the building.

Architect Harry Sims Bent designed several Honolulu city's park buildings, including Mother Waldron's, in art deco and modern themes featuring angular zig-zag designs and curved shapes.

Rhoades says rail would benefit the lower income constituents in his Downtown and Chinatown district, but he can’t see the route changing from Halekauwila.

"Realistically it’s not going to happen. I would say it’s one in a million. It’s too much money," said Rhoades.

Rhoades said he has been told the price tag could be 4 to 8 times higher, if the route were to go underground.

Brower, too. believes a route change is unrealistic.

"I hope these setbacks will mean it’s a better rail system once it’s developed," said Brower.

Two area lawmakers, watching carefully to see which side of the tracks the train will run -- if at all. 

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