Residents share vision of Thomas Square

Community meeting held over future of park

 UPDATED 6:39 AM HST May 14, 2013
HONOLULU -

Thomas Square, a historic Honolulu park, has been a place to play and even a place of protest in the past. Monday evening, Oahu residents gathered to share their vision of what the popular park will be in the future.

Thomas Square is many different things to many different people.

"I see the promenade at Thomas Square at the beginning as having art. I see it as a beautiful area," said Honolulu resident Jack James.

For some, the park is an important reminder of Hawaii's past.  It was there the British occupation of Hawaii ended 170 years ago.

"From its origin it has been a political place. The occupy guys should have a place there as it has always been political," stated Honolulu resident Aaron Ching.

For the past two years, deOccupy Honolulu occupied Thomas Square to protest the lack of housing for Hawaii's homeless. Their efforts have generated support from some in the audience.

"I have used Thomas Square park for a number of years. There are homeless there and they have never bothered me. Before you spend millions on beautification resolve the increasing homeless problem," said Honolulu resident Bob Loren.

Some residents called for more amenities at the park for everyone.

"How about a toilet, bathroom or sink that actually works? We've got one water fountain for the whole park -- that's a mile square," said deOccupy Honolulu protester "True Blue."

New planters now line the park, but many were not happy about the additions.

"I'm told the planters are 42 inches across, that means wheelchairs cannot pass. The city is going to have to take those planters away," exclaimed Honolulu resident Larry Geller.

Some were worried about invasive plants sprouting up at Thomas Square, while others were more concerned about those who run the park.

"Ever since the United States arrived here and all the other invasive species, you folks have prevailed with lies," said Kalani Asam, with Ka Lei Maile Ali.

Thomas Square has gone through declines and rebirths before.  Now some residents are ready for a cleanup and changes to keep it from being an eyesore.

"We don't want shantytowns, this is Hawaii. Respect the land, respect the people of Hawaii," said Honolulu resident Walter Balinski Jr.

Dozens of different visions for Thomas Square were presented. Which means coming up with plan that will appease everyone may turn out to be no walk in the park.

All the comments, spoken and written, will be compiled by the city to help officials come up with a plan for the park.

While Monday's event was well attended at the Academy of Arts' Doris Duke theater there are no current plans for a repeat performance.

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