Residents are celebrating the end of a three-year struggle to protect Waimanalo Bay Beach Park’s Sherwood Forest from development.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration confirmed Wednesday it put its plans on hold to build an athletic field, install an irrigation system and build a playground at Sherwood forest in Waimanalo on the property, Hawaii News Now reported.
Opponents feared the project would have threatened native species and burial sites.
In 2019, police arrested more than two dozen people who stood at the entrance of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park as crews tried to clear land for the project.
Some residents argued that money should go towards updating the current facilities.
“All the facilities our community members utilize are going to sh*t,” said Kukana Kama-Toth, a fifth generation resident and Waimanalo Neighborhood Board Member, to the Honolulu Civil Beat. “The simple things that other communities have we don’t, but they want to give us a new park, instead of investing money where it is needed the most.”
Other neighboring areas near Waimanalo such as Kailua and Lanikai had undergone similar development.
“Kailua is done, Lanikai is done, the last little bit is us [Waimanalo],” Waimanalo resident Jody Green told the Honolulu Civil Beat.
The main goal for Friends of Sherwoods was to preserve a “shared community resource, protect a sacred ancestral burial ground, and defend endangered species habitat.” After three years, the community finally achieved its goal.
“We have settled with the City, and they have agreed to end their proposed development of Sherwood Forest once and for all. Most importantly, they have agreed to do so on our terms,” the Friends of Sherwood’s recent newsletter stated. “It is now illegal for anyone, whether they work for the City or not, to make any changes whatsoever to the park. No activity of any kind is allowed without a permit, and an Environmental Impact Statement.”
“It’s a tremendous victory just for the land,” Friends of Sherwood Forest Attorney Lanson Kupau said. “And it’s a tremendous victory for our ancestors. That who are buried there will no longer be disturbed. And it’s also a victory for the community of Waimanalo that use the park as well as future generations.”
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