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Another Kaka'ako park temporarily closes, another move by the homeless

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Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park in Kaka?ako will shut down at the start of the New Year. The month-long closure is for maintenence, and to make the park more resistant to graffiti.

The closure will also clear out more than a dozen homeless people who currently call the park home.

Signs are now posted at the park, announcing that the closure will take effect from Tuesday, January 2 until February. This is the fourth park closed for maintenence in the Kaka'ako area. With another park closing, the homeless people we spoke to said they don't know where they will go next.

Nearby businesses fear the park's closure on Tuesday will push the homeless onto their properties. Sean Cristoval, assistant manager of Fisher Hawaii, says "it's probably a definite thing for sure that they're going to come to our back parking lots, or on the side, or pretty much wherever they can find."

With the restrooms currently locked at the park, Cristoval says the homeless people have been using the ones on the Fisher Hawaii property instead. He believes the problem will only get worse once they are kicked out of the park in a few days.

He says this may scare some customers away. "You don't want people to think that they don't even want to come in because they're scared or because it's just unsightly," Cristoval says.

Barry Sinclair has been visiting the park for 61 years. He agrees that its closing will cause the homeless to disperse into other nearby properties. "They're not going to move away," he says. "This is their neighborhood and they're always going to around."

Sinclair says that he can relate to what the homeless people are going through. "I have been homeless myself. I have been drunk and lived in the park myself. I've been arrested in many of the different islands."

Since then, he says he's recovered from alcoholism and landed his dream job in the movie business. He says that closing the park and the bathrooms there will make life more difficult for the homeless, but he acknowledges there are no easy answers to fixing Hawaii's homeless problem.

"I can see both sides of the problem, but I can't tell anyone what to do," he says. "I can only do a good job looking after myself."

During the park's closure, the People's Open Market that is usually held there will be relocated to the Magic Island parking lot. And the open market will have to be permanently relocate in the future, because the future Pohukaina Elementary School is expected to be built on the park's grounds. 

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