Group of people around a big table

Standing at left, Calvin Bulan, UH Community Design Center project assistant and doctor of architecture candidate, facilitates a small-group discussion on the draft master plan for Wahiawā.

Some Wahiawā residents have a dream for their hometown. One envisions a great lawn—shaded by native trees—that would provide a public place of solitude along Lake Wilson. Others would appreciate stormwater treatment along the wetlands to improve the water quality in the lake, which could lead to enhanced access for fishing and recreational activities.

Those were some of the ideas discussed by Central Oʻahu residents at a well-attended July 23 community meeting to reenvision the Wahiawā Freshwater State Recreation Area. The project, led by the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center (UHCDC) in UH Mānoa’s School of Architecture, was commissioned by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) with a tentative deadline of December 2019.

After the UHCDC draft master plan was shared with meeting attendees, they divided into small discussion groups to share their thoughts. They focused on ecological design, resource protection, placemaking, recreational activities and scenarios for low-impact state-park lodging.

“Our freshwater park project benefits from a collaboration of highly engaged community members seeking near-home opportunities to access recreation and nature, and our UH landscape architecture students, staff and faculty, who have the design tools to create public open space amenities for future generations of park users,” said Judith Stilgenbauer, principal investigator and associate professor. “We are confident that this synergy will result in a proposal for a beautiful and ecologically resilient waterfront park for the public to utilize and enjoy.”

The community meeting was held in partnership with DLNR, with assistance from the Blue Zones Project and Wahiawā Fresh! Opening remarks were shared by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, area lawmaker and project proponent.

The overall study and proof-of-concept design project will conceptualize the programming and innovative redesign of the state park and its facilities.

For more information, contact Hayley Diamond, UHCDC senior research associate, at hayleyd@hawaii.edu.

aerial graphic of Wahiawa

A Wahiawā connectivity diagram illustrates the potential for increasing access to the park and Lake Wilson.