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September 17, 2001

GROUND BROKEN FOR SMITH BERETANIA PARK

Mayor Jeremy Harris and City Council Chair Jon Yoshimura participated in groundbreaking ceremonies held today for the Smith Beretania Park.

The new park, being build at the site of the Smith Beretania parking lot, will include a new below grade parking structure with 112 parking stalls replacing the parking stalls in the old parking lot. The on-grade park over the over the parking structure will include a passive park and a basketball/volleyball court.

The contractor is T. Iida Contracting and the estimated completion date is March 2002. The park and parking lot will cost $7,618,000.00

“The park will add beauty and offer recreation in historic Chinatown, and provide parking in the area” according to Mayor Harris. The Youth Pastor at the adjacent Calvary Chapel of Honolulu has indicated that they are looking forward to using the basketball courts,” the Mayor added. Young people at the church have to clear an area of chairs and set up a temporary basketball backboard inside the Church.

The park is at the northeast corner of the Historic Chinatown District. The area was not affected by the historic Chinatown fire of 1889. Between 1869 and 1900, the area became the largest and most densely populated area of the district. In 1879 the area was mapped as having over twenty buildings and sheds. Ahi’s Tenements occupied the southeast-central portion of the site.  The site was leveled and burned in January 12, 1900, because a forty year-old male who lived at the tenements became a victim of bubonic plague.

The major portion of the block was developed into a playground area in 1911 and used until the Smith Beretania parking lot was built in 1952.

On January 10, 1995, the city broke down the 4-foot hollow-tile wall bordering the lot at Smith and Pauahi streets. The Mayor and Councilmember Jon Yoshimura both took sledgehammers to the wall to emphasize the City’s effort against crime in Chinatown.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2002

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