Protect Mother Waldron Park and Playground from Redevelopment

Protect Mother Waldron Park and Playground from Redevelopment

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Friends of Mother Waldron Park and Playground started this petition to City of Honolulu

Mother Waldron Park and Playground are essential features of the Kaka'ako neighborhood. The park and playground honor the “legendary and indomitable” Margaret "Mother" Waldron, a woman of Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, and Irish heritage, who was Honolulu's "Friend to the Poor" as she worked as an educator at Pohukaina Schools, playground manager at Atkinson Park, youth advocate, community organizer, social welfare crusader, unpaid probation officer, philanthropist, and more. From 1914-1937, the Honolulu Star bulletin reported on her work over 100 times. Today, the park sees daily use by current residents of Kaka-ako, and is a green oasis in a neighborhood that includes affordable and senior housing, commercial properties, and light industrial structures. 

The park and playground were added to the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 1988, with an application that cited the park's relationship to historic events (the national urban playground movement of the early 20th century); Mother Waldron's historic significance and lasting impact to Kaka'ako; and the Art Deco architecture of the buildings on the park. However, in May of this year, the City of Honolulu, through HART, has submitted a revised application for the Registers, reversing the previously acknowledged criteria, claiming that Mother Waldron is not significant to Kaka'ako history; the integrity of the park is compromised due to boundary changes over time; and the Art Deco architecture has not been maintained. These assessments are arguable, and some are demonstrably false.

We believe that the revised application is an attempt by the City and HART to remove the park and playground from the Registers to make it easier to remove Mother Waldron's name from association with the park; negatively impact the park by construction related to HART; and "redevelop" the land for residential and commercial uses, including a pave pedestrian walkway with water features, as Kaka'ako is at the center of rapid gentrification.

Our petition asks that the original 1988 applications for the National and State Registers stand, and that the City act to preserve the intention of Honolulu's 1937 residents: that the park and playground bearing Mother Waldron's name be preserved with her name intact for the use of Kaka'ako residents today and in the future. 

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