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A day after Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell reaffirmed his ardent support for the construction project at Sherwood Forest, the mayor announced the discovery of iwi at the site and said work would be put on hold “indefinitely.”
He said the historic preservation division allows a project to move forward when there is an “inadvertent find,” as long as there is a protective buffer around the area and temporary protective measures are taken.
However, the mayor indicated his decision to halt the project had to do with COVID-19.
“My greatest concern is for the health and safety of our community,” he said. “I greatly support the first amendment rights of all members of our community, but I am greatly concerned with gatherings during this time. Therefore, in order to allow for people to focus on staying at home during this time, I am going to pause this project while we consult with the appropriate entities.”
Save Our Sherwoods President Kuike Kamakea-Ohelo said the discovery of iwi kupuna in the area affirmed what the community already knew.
“With this confirmed finding, we urge the city to cease and desist from further desecration of our iwi kupuna by stopping the Phase 1 construction permanently,” he said in a statement. “We also expect the city will do everything in its power to protect the site to ensure the iwi remain undisturbed until the next steps are determined.”
He added that halting the project will prevent any large gatherings that could be triggered by additional construction work, “which would put unnecessary harm to our kupuna, children and families.”
In his written statement, Caldwell said the city will continue to consult with officials from historic preservation division and the Oahu Burial Council.
“I continue to believe this is a project that can be valuable to the future of the Waimanalo community,” the mayor said. “I urge everyone to continue to follow the stay at home order to keep yourselves and your family safe during this time.”
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