The proposed site for a one-acre inclusive playground facility, specifically designed and built for children of all abilities, has been moved to Kaka‘ako Makai Gateway Park, adjacent to the Children’s Discovery Center. The playground was originally proposed as part of the new Ala Moana Park Master Plan.
“We’re looking forward to bringing this vital community project to reality,” said Tiffany Vara, Paani Kakou Executive Director. “This will be O‘ahu’s first inclusive playground for all children of all abilities, including the 1 in 7 children who today who don’t have a playground designed with their needs in mind.”
In addition, the group is committed to raising funds so that a new fully ADA-compliant family bathroom could be added to the plans for Ala Moana Park. Such a facility would include room for a wheelchair and two people, an adult-sized changing table, toilet and sink.
The new Kaka‘ako location will accommodate zones for active and quiet play, ADA-compliant family bathroom facilities with adult-sized changing tables, and a concession operation. A perimeter fence, park ranger office and HPD comfort station are also included for safety and security. Admission to the playground will be free.
Funding for construction of the new playground and restrooms will be raised by Pa‘ani Kakou through a planned public-private partnership (P-3) arrangement with the City.
“We’ve worked hard to find consensus on the most appropriate location for the playground, and we appreciate everyone who has come to the table to make this happen,” said Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, Pa‘ani Kakou board member.
Announcement of the new plans has received positive reaction from community groups and the city administration.
“Malama Moana is in support of the playground being moved to the Kaka’ako Makai Gateway Park,” said Audrey Lee of Malama Moana. “We feel the location selected would have more accessibility for families and complements the Children’s Discovery Center as well. The proposed ADA compliant family bathroom at Ala Moana Beach Park would be a welcome addition for families with special needs and would allow more inclusivity at the Park.”
“Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui is pleased that Pa`ani Kakou has chosen to move their inclusive playground from Ala Moana Beach Park to Kaka`ako and is welcoming public input to the process,” said Char Chun-Lum of Save Ala Moana Beach Park Hui. “Next to the Children’s Discovery Center, the new playground will be an important feature in the revitalization of Kaka`ako Park – a ‘win-win’ situation for families who will have two great parks to enjoy with their children.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell commented: “It is great news that these community groups have worked together to reach a compromise on the inclusive playground. I want to congratulate them for their efforts and we look forward to working with them to achieve success. We need more facilities that enable those with disabilities to access and enjoy our city parks, starting with the playground at Kakaako Gateway Makai Park and an inclusive restroom facility at Ala Moana Regional Park.”