President's Message for Summer 2014
by Alexandra Avery, President
Yes, big hugs all around. Thank you to all our members who have been hard at work this busy summer. Beside the incident with that little yellow plane towing banners through our beautiful skies, here is a run-down of what we have been doing to keep Hawai‘i clean, green, and beautiful.
In June, Marti Townsend and I attended the third Land Use Division Task Force. It is a fifteen month review of the process for changing state land use designations. We are aware that this is a state mandated review, and that the last one five years ago, imploded before any reforms were decided on. We are seeing the struggles involved in this process, where few people are experts in the changing stewardship of our public lands.
May brought the formation of three new Working Groups under Public Affairs:
As it has been our goal this past year to keep general Honolulu issues within the Oahu branches, we are very grateful that our Manoa branch volunteers are leading these three committees.
Our Bill 69 Working Group, chaired by North Shore branch member Kathy Whitmire, has achieved a temporary stay with the bill that would have allowed billboards on buses. It was a lot of campaigning and testifying, which involved volunteers from all Oahu branches. Thank you!
We are hoping the recent incident with that “little yellow plane” will turn the Mayor off to the idea of ads on our buses. Still, we are collecting petition signatures, and Oahu Outdoor Circle volunteers are participating in Neighborhood Board presentations of our position on Bill 69. This needs to be done from August through November. The two NB’s that have counseled NO on Bill 69 are Kailua NB and Hawaii Kai NB.
Our Public Affairs Committee is still seeking a Chair. It has been meeting the first Tuesday of each month, in the office at noon. Neighbor island members are encouraged to call-in to the meeting. Since we have divided the efforts into Working Committees with their own meeting dates, the Public Affairs Committee can better focus on and oversee statewide issues. In addition to a Chair, the PAC seeks representatives from all branches to be able to best represent statewide interests. Please call the office to lend your representation.
In late May, I represented The Outdoor Circle in a Community Forum on Kaka‘ako. It was extremely encouraging to see that there was almost total support of enlarging the public green spaces in the area. Parks were a big concern, especially Mother Waldron Park, the epicenter of the first phase of 450’ buildings. I thank Marti Townsend and Jerry Lam who attended the evening forum as well.
The meeting was filmed by Olelo and will be rebroadcast on Chanel 54 on June 20 at 2:30 pm. An audio recording of the meeting is also available on demand at the ThinkTech Hawaii website under the title "A Vision for Kakaako”.
The biggest concern coming out of the Kaka’ako Working Group is the diminished public green space, the ground level landscaping requirements, and the pressure being put on Waldron Park. As many towns are now privatizing public parks, the working group is taking into consideration this possibility for Honolulu. We would like your thoughts on this subject. When this question came up a few years ago, TOC recommended against the C&C allowing private sponsorship of public park facilities. Is there a way public-private partnerships could be used properly to benefit our public parks?
Thomas Square park is also going to be experiencing big changes with the designed rail station and the constant pressure from adjoining businesses to spill out and feed into the park. Several trees in the park have been recently removed due to a stem gall wasp infestation. Replanting will be done after the master planning process is completed. Steve Mechler and Marty Schiller seek other interested volunteers on this working group.
It was a pleasure to attend the Lani-Kailua annual meeting at Kane‘ohe Yacht Club, with great food and views, and to hear Heidi Bornhorst speak of the tree mapping project they have just completed at the UH Manoa Campus.
Several professional arborists and landscapers on our board have been moving toward the planting of the Exceptional Tree promised to the Washington Place garden when we met there last fall. It is a long and winding tale, including finally finding the appropriate tree on the Big Isle, and as of now, wading through the process of getting it in the ground. I thank Steve Mechler for finding the Pak Lan which is to compliment the existing one at the front entry of Washington Place. We are getting closer!
The Education Committee Chair, Cindie Ogata, is organizing a school planting project available to all branches as a partnership with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. More details coming soon.
The Lani-Kailua branch spearheaded comments criticizing the development proposed for Kawainui Marsh. And the Waimea branch participated in a major clean-up of downtown Waimea Town in partnership with Matson Company.
Please mark your calendars for our August 14th Annual Meeting and installation of new officers in Manoa. Our next Board meeting will be August 15th.
And support The Outdoor Circle with the purchase of a $5 pass to savings at Macy's on August 23rd.
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