Protest held over Honolulu park construction resumption

HONOLULU — About 20 protesters gathered in Honolulu after the city announced plans to resume construction of a new multipurpose field in a park known as Sherwood Forest.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Sunday on social media that construction would resume at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Monday.

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Opponents of the project gathered at the park entrance Monday despite an email from the group Save Our Sherwoods asking residents to observe stay-at-home restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

City officials said in January they intended to continue with the first phase of the project to develop a section of the Waimanalo park, also called Sherwood Forest.

“While there’s been a lot of emotion around the project, I think it’s everyone’s hope at the end of the day when this field is completed … people can gather here,” Caldwell said in the online video statement.

The resumption of construction is a blow to community members who have opposed the $1.43 million development project at the park since last year. The project was put on hold after 28 people were arrested trying to block construction in September.

The project is part of a 2012 Waimanalo Bay Beach Park master plan to develop Sherwood Forest, including the installation of hiking trails, a parking lot and the multipurpose field.

“The mayor’s reckless, underhanded behavior is unethical and he is seeking to subvert our democracy during a health crisis,” Save Our Sherwoods said in its email. “We know many of you have said you will stand in protest. However, to be clear, no one should violate the stay-at-home order or risk exposure to the coronavirus to protest these actions.”

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson posted a message online opposing construction during the coronavirus outbreak but urging opponents to communicate remotely rather than gather at the park.

“I sent a direct request to Mayor Caldwell to not go forward with construction at Sherwoods at this time as our entire community is in the midst of a pandemic,” Anderson wrote.

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A hearing for a lawsuit against the city was delayed because of the pandemic, plaintiffs said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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