Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is moving ahead next month to build a bright blue path around Magic Island.

It 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 is expected to finish the project, which includes renovating two outdoor showers by Magic Island’s comfort station, by next spring at a total cost of $666,000.

Planned Magic Island exercise path

Plans call for the refurbished path to be blue, “like the color of the ocean,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

City & County of Honolulu

Caldwell says, “The Magic Island path, it’s rutted. It’s been dug up. You see people use this path heavily… and we want to make it so it’s smooth and safe for people to walk on so they don’t trip.” 

At each 0.1 mile interval, the path will be marked,  “so those who want can measure how far they have walked along this incredibly beautiful area,” says Caldwell.

The mayor is absolutely right. The old asphalt pathway around Magic Island needs to be repaired. But why does Caldwell insist on making the new path electric blue?

At a recent news conference, the mayor lauded the blue color as beautiful “like the color of the ocean.”

Chris Dacus , the city’s Ala Moana project manager says. “Ala Moana means ‘path to the sea’ and Aina Moana (Magic Island) means  ‘land from the sea.’ The color blue was chosen to complement the ocean and the sky.”

City Parks Director Michele Nekota recently told the Star-Advertiser “it just brightens the park up. Across the nation, that’s the latest trend, to color the concrete.”

The material to be used on the repaving is a coating called Liquid Road, manufactured by SealMaster. Its purpose is to protect and renew asphalt surfaces and provide a slip resistant finish. The city says the blue color coat will need to be reapplied every five to 10 years.

The Outdoor Circle’s interim executive director, David Cheever, says. “We think it will be a visual blight. Why paint the path blue in a beautiful place like Magic Island?”

Magic Island walkway soon to be painted blue. 3 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The pathway as it looked Monday.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

I am one of the thousands of Oahu residents who regularly uses Magic Island pathway for exercise. I love to listen to the ocean as I jog around the path in the pre-dawn, watching the light turn golden as the sun slowly rises over Diamond Head.

Magic Island is where Honolulu’s city dwellers come to take a break from the stresses of urban life. Residents need the walkway to be a natural color, agreeable to the senses and restful. The notion of a bright blue path makes me shudder.

Maunalani Circle resident Mary Flynn, a longtime Ala Moana Park user and exercise swimmer, calls the planned blue pathway “potentially ugly.”

“This is not an indoor jogging track,” says Flynn, “but a beautiful natural setting. Artistically, it would be better to have the path be a color that would blend in with the earth and grass. That would be more in keeping with a park.”

Landscape designer Stephen Haus is more blunt: “The blue is garish and looks like Vegas.” 

Haus says, “I would prefer some sort of coral aggregate concrete which would look like travertine, and be more Hawaiiana. Less heat absorption, too.”

To be fair here, not everybody is as huhu as me.  My husband, who usually grumbles about everything, is indifferent to the blue pathway.

He says,  “It doesn’t much trouble me.”

“Maybe the reason it will be blue is to mark it as a pedestrian walk/run way, not for bikes, buggies, etcetera — like the paths they use to mark indoor tracks, “ he says.

But that’s the salient point. Why place an indoor track feature in one of our most beautiful outdoor settings?

Auwe! Let’s go back to the drawing board on this one.

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