Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration has emailed a questionnaire to 530 Oahu residents to ask them to help the city decide on a color for the Magic Island pathway.
The choice is between bright blue favored by the mayor and the brownish-red color traditionally seen on running tracks and tennis courts.
Chris Dacus, the city’s Ala Moana project manager, says the contest was prompted by people’s response to my Aug. 4 column criticizing the mayor for moving ahead with the blue color that some considered jarring and unnatural for the oceanside park.
Honolulu landscape designer Stephen Haus called the blue color garish and Vegas-like.
The Outdoor Circle’s David Cheever called the planned blue path “a visual blight.”
Dacus says the targeted list of contest participants includes 10 people who sent handwritten letters to the mayor after the Civil Beat column appeared, urging him to rescind his plan for a blue path.
Others invited to participate include Oahu residents who in the past have showed up at meetings to discuss the future of Ala Moana Park or have sent their opinions to the city’s www.ouralamoanapark.com website.
“These are people with a strongly vested interest in Ala Moana Park,” says Dacus. “We think the contest is an unbiased way to reach out to the community to find out the color that’s favored.”
Dacus says blue has been the favorite choice of the city as “kind of a fun color.” He said it would also blend in beautifully with the location of Magic Island, which stretches to the ocean with blue skies above.
In the email asking recipients to help with the choice, the red sealcoat is described as “a brick red. Red has traditionally been the color of running tracks dating back hundreds of years with the use of red cinder for running surfaces. Using red will reduce the heat of the black asphalt.”
The blue is described as “a sky blue color. Blue is a popular color for new running tracks. Blue was selected for this project for the connection to the place. Aina Moana (from the sea), Ala Moana (path to the sea) and the color of the sky and ocean. Using blue will reduce the heat of the black asphalt.”
Those invited to participate must respond with their color choice by Friday. Voters cannot forward the questionnaire to others to ask them to participate. Only one vote per person initially contacted is allowed.
Maunalani Circle resident Mary Flynn, a longtime Ala Moana park user, was one of the people contacted to vote.
Flynn says, “I am grateful that the Mayor’s office wants the public’s opinion, but am frustrated that only two choices were allowed and so late into the planning process. I picked red because it seems closest to an ‘earth color’ like brick. After all, we are walking on earth, not water.”
The Magic Island pathway will be one of the first improvements to be completed under the mayor’s nine-point community action plan for Ala Moana Beach Park.
Site Engineering Inc. will begin the pathway project later this month or early next month. Workers are expected to complete the pathway in February.
The project’s $666,000 cost includes renovating two outdoor showers by Magic Island’s comfort station, as well as marking the pathway at tenth-of-mile intervals to help exercisers know how far they have run or walked.
Dacus says pathway work will be done in intervals to allow people to keep exercising as it progresses.
The aging asphalt path around Magic Island will be repaired first; then, it will be coated with a black sealant. When the sealant dries, the path will be painted with what’s called traffic paint, either an earth red or blue coloring, depending on which color people select.
Dacus says Ala Moana Beach Park is cherished by the people of Hawaii and the city will make every effort to reach out to people who love the park as it moves ahead with its plan to “restore, maintain and enhance” the much-admired oasis.