UH plans limited, phased-in re-opening for Lyon Arboretum

Some volunteers expected back this month;timetable for public access still to be determined

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, 808-956-8109
External Affairs and University Relations
Jim Manke, 808-956-6099
Manoa Chancellor's Office
Posted: Oct 5, 2004

The University of Hawaiʻi expects to re-open parts of Lyon Arboretum to a limited number of its volunteers sometime this month. University officials closed the facility to the general public and everyone except paid staff in late August because of health and safety concerns.

In mid-September, an engineering consulting firm — Nagamine Okawa Engineers, Inc. — reviewed the structural integrity of five buildings on the property. The university has concluded from their preliminary report that by restricting access to some areas — and after safety measures have been instituted in other areas — parts of the Arboretum will be safe enough for volunteers to return to the facility in the next few weeks.

"We rely heavily on our dedicated volunteers to help maintain the grounds and the collections of plants on the property," said UH Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert, "and we look forward to welcoming them back to this exceptional place."

Still to be decided is the timetable for allowing public access to the Arboretum. The structural survey showed that the Children‘s Learning Center is in good condition. But other structures did not fare so well, and have been rated "fair" to "poor" and in need of substantial repair.

"We will work out the details of resuming volunteer activities over the next couple of weeks, and expect that some limited access will be allowed no later than November 1," Englert said. "There are other measures that need to be taken to restore and maintain a safe environment there — such as cutting down trees that are in danger of falling, and providing portable toilets to replace the less-than-adequate cesspool system that we have relied on for too long."

For the longer term, Chancellor Englert has appointed Waikiki Aquarium Director Andrew Rossiter to head a task group that will undertake a review of the Lyon Arboretum‘s mission to make sure it is in concert with the university‘s core missions of education and research. Task group membership is being solicited from a broadly-based group of community organizations, including the Manoa Neighborhood Board, the Outdoor Circle, Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi, Sierra Club Hawaiʻi Chapter, Hawaiʻi Nature Center and the Department of Land and Natural resources. In-house groups such as the Lyon Arboretum Association and the Hui Hana Wednesday volunteers organization will also participate on the task group.

It is expected that during the time the task group is active, members will have the opportunity to take into consideration the findings of a State Auditor‘s review of financial and management issues that has been undertaken over the last several months.

"The Lyon Arboretum is a significant neighborhood asset, and we understand that public access to this wonderful place is important as a part of the university‘s mission of service to our community," Chancellor Englert said. "Because of that, we feel an obligation to make sure what we do there in the years ahead is done correctly and with good will to assure that the facility will be there in perpetuity."