Mayor Kirk Caldwell has called for a pause on a controversial park construction project in Waimanalo after reports circulated that an object of potential historical significance had been found there.
On Tuesday, Caldwell told reporters that no further work would be done on the site until a review was completed by the State Historic Preservation Department.
The park, known officially as Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and unofficially as Sherwood Forest, is a popular forested community gathering place.
The city plans to build a $1.4 million park project there, including a multi-purpose field, a playground and 11 parking spaces, with an underground irrigation system that will maintain the green, manicured lawn.
As police watched, archaeologist Patrick Kirch looked for items of historic relevance at Waimanalo on Saturday.
“In an abundance of caution, as mayor, we reported it to SHPD and we’ll wait to hear what they say,” Caldwell told reporters Tuesday. “We will follow all the protocols. We want to make sure everything is done properly.”
On Saturday, famed archaeologist Patrick Kirch, a scholar known for his expertise on Polynesian migration patterns across the Pacific as well as the history of the Waimanalo area, said he showed Honolulu police the item he found on the the site and at their request, later filed a police report about it.
Kirch later told Civil Beat that the item was a single flake of material that was a byproduct from stone tool manufacturing, something commonly found on Hawaiian sites. He said he told police and Caldwell that the item was not historically significant. “It was just one object and not significant,” he said.
(Correction: An earlier version of the story said Kirch turned in several objects and that those potentially held potential historic significance, which he said was inaccurate.)
Caldwell said he met with Kirch on Monday and that Kirch would play a role in analyzing the material, as well as in further city and state deliberations.
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Kirstin Downey is a reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat. A former Washington Post reporter and author of several books, she splits her time between Hawaii and Washington, D.C. You can reach her by email at email@example.com