Over the past few months, I have been helping the Kailua Village Business Improvement District in a process for a Revitalized Vision for Hale Hālāwai.
After some individual and small focus discussions, last week we held two public meetings at Hale Hālāwai to get further input.
Dave Corrigan from Big Island Video News stopped by at one and did some interviews; you may see that here:
Hale Hālāwai translates to meeting house or gathering place.
We are seeking input to develop a community vision. “A revitalized vision of Hale Hālāwai as the piko of Historic Kailua Village will celebrate our heritage, encourage interaction between residents and promote a deeper sense of community.”
Where are we now?
Where are we going?
Where do we want to be?
How do we get there?
Hale Hālāwai has long been a community gathering place, but it had a shaky start …
The people of Kailua-Kona almost lost the only remaining public land fronting the ocean in 1938 when a resolution was passed asking “the land commissioner to consummate an exchange with the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., by which an area of approximately 39 acres of land at Keauhou belonging to Inter-Island, would be traded to the county for the courthouse tract on the beach next to the Kona Inn.” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 9, 1938)
Effective March 20, 1943, Governor’s Executive Order 1013 set aside the property for the Kona Court House, under the control and management of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Hawai‘i. (EO 1949) Then in the 1950s, “The alert Kona Outdoor Circle has issued a protest and a warning. It protests increased use of the old Kona courthouse site as a parking lot. And it warns that unless action is taken soon, the public may lose access to Kona beaches. There is a connection between the two.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, March 3, 1956)
The matter was formally resolved when Governor Samuel Wilder King “ended a long controversy over future use of the 3.2-acre waterfront site with a statement at a press conference that the Territory has decided against sale or lease of the grounds.” (Honolulu Advertiser, August 25, 1955)
County Sought Site for Park Purposes
Then, the Hawai‘i County Board of Supervisors, by Resolution 255, dated November 4, 1959, requested that the area be set aside for park and recreational purposes. On May 3, 1961, Governor William F Quinn cancelled Executive Order 1013 and issued Executive Order 1949 and set aside the property “for a public purpose, namely as a Civic Center, under the control and management of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Hawai‘i.” (EO1949)
Initial thoughts for its use noted that the “conversion of the old courthouse site into a cultural center consisting of a library, auditorium and amphitheatre.” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, November 25, 1958) It was initially referred to as the “Kona Cultural Center” (sometimes Kailua Cultural Center). In 1961, the facility was well under construction and groups were already using it, even prior to its completion.
The Naming of “Hale Hālāwai”
The Kona Torch noted that in July 1962, the Kona Outdoor Circle had a “contest for naming the new Kona Cultural Center. Mrs. Grace Napaepae, the naming winner, received $25 for the name, Hale Hālāwai.”
Hale Hālāwai continues to be a community gathering place …
It was sometimes referenced as “Hale Hālāwai, a meeting house next to the Kona Inn” (Honolulu Advertiser, March 20, 1963), as well as “Hale Hālāwai, Kona’s civic center.” (Star Bulletin & Advertiser, April 21, 1963) and “Hale Hālāwai, Kona’s community center.” (Honolulu Advertiser, October 11, 1963)
It became Kona’s gathering place … “we had get-together, you see, down the Hale Hālāwai. So, they pick up the old-timers in [coffee] farming. … Everybody meet at the Hale Hālāwai.” (Katherine ‘Nina’ Kālaiwa‘a, 70, farmer; A Social History of Kona, 1981)
Others note, today, “currently there are only two areas (Hale Hālāwai and Maka‘eo [Old Airport]) in North Kona that can host large family gatherings.” (Malia Kipapa)
In thinking of the Vision for Hale Hālāwai – Think About the Future:
- What do you value about Hale Hālāwai that you do not want to see changed?
- What changes would you most like to see Hale Hālāwai in the future? (near-term and long-term)
- What do you want Hale Hālāwai to be like in 5, 10, 20 years?
What about the existing site & facilities? Keep them? Change them (to what?) Make it all open space?
What about the existing programs and uses: Keep them? Change them (to what?) Add more (what?)
If you have ideas, we want your input. Please e-mail me at PeterYoung@Hookuleana.com