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Community vision comes to life in creation of Keawaiki Park

By Staff | Aug 31, 2017

David Allaire said, “We have created a nice place with all the tables, the shade and the breezes here.”

LAHAINA – Around five years ago, Lahaina Harbor users and Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) leaders looked around the harbor front area and said, “Things are getting a little dilapidated here, gang,” LRF President David Allaire recalled.

“And we saw need for the community to get together and make a change to improve the overall environment and the ambience down here.”

With a grant from the county Department of Parks and Recreation, LRF Executive Director Theo Morrison led an effort to bring together harbor users and community-minded citizens for summer workshops focusing on two questions: “What if you could cleanup the harbor and Lahaina Public Library parks?” And, “How would it look to you in your own mind?”

“And from that simple exercise and a number of facilitated workshops by an expert in community design, we developed a fantastic Harbor Front Improvement Plan,” said Allaire, adding that the plan had strong community input, support and agreement.

Last week Wednesday morning, the county Department of Parks and Recreation and Lahaina Restoration Foundation celebrated the successful completion of Phase I of the Lahaina Harbor Front Improvement Project – now known as Keawaiki Park – and held a blessing for the area.

Phase I plans included opening the view and beautifying the harbor waiting area along Wharf Street between the restroom building and the hau tree by the loading dock, creating a comfortable ambiance in this important historic corridor.

Work led by contractor Betsill Brothers LLC included improving the sidewalk with brick pavers; building two shade trellises with bench seating and planting pohuehue (beach morning glory) that will grow up and over the posts and trellises; creating a large, semicircle planter from the existing rock planters that can also be used for seating; landscaping improvements; adding new gooseneck street lamps and enhancing the trellises with additional lighting; and installing wooden bollards along Wharf Street to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic.

Allaire explained that “keawaiki” means small harbor, or small place for ships, in Hawaiian.

“This is a great place to actually watch and look at that harbor right there. It’s a great place just to come and wait for a cruise or a fishing charter, or just hang out and enjoy the beautiful harbor front area that is right here in front of you,” Allaire said.

He emphasized that the project involved the community and government working together. He thanked the many partners at the ceremony.

“There were just so many people that were involved in being able to take what was once a rundown area… to create the facility like this and create the area like this. It really took everybody working together,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Morrison informed the audience of future projects.

She said LRF has received a $75,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation, in cooperation with Historic Hawaii Foundation, to repair the deck and bollards in Lahaina’s historic, still-operating lighthouse nearby.

Built by King Kamehameha III in 1840 and originally fueled with whale oil, it was the first lighthouse in Hawaii and the first on the entire Pacific Coast.

LRF will go out to bid soon on a $100,000 project to repair the paths and pavers in Banyan Tree Park.

Morrison said a campaign is now underway to collect donations to replace the flagpole in the harbor front area.

The pole fell down in 2013 in rough weather. She said the goal is to raise $25,000 to replace what was a wooden pole with an aluminum flagpole.

LRF plans to raise the flag on the new pole on Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution spoke and made a donation at the ceremony.

LRF has raised $5,000 so far. To make a donation, call the Lahaina Restoration Foundation office at (808) 661-3262 or e-mail info@lahainarestoration.org.