My neighborhood is disappearing by doubling

Monday Musings from Melinda by LHS Contributor Melinda M.

Everywhere you look, Hilo is changing. I don’t mean gentrifying. I don’t mean politically. I don’t necessarily mean demographically either. I mean physically.

Yesterday, I took Daisy (read about Daisy in this post) for a walk on the other street in our neighborhood, you know, just to mix it up and oh my word, the forest is gone.

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Where once the forest blocked this view, you can now see to the ocean.

Where once there was a wall of green, there is now a window of light and a view all the way to the coast. I have mixed feelings about that: light and more ocean views = good; no more forest = bad. Of course, the forest isn’t gone to provide a better ocean view.

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My cozy development today.

It has been plowed under to make way for a whole new street of homes. It seems our enclave of 200 homes is about to triple maybe even quadruple but in the near term “simply” double.

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My not-so-cozy development in a few years.

When we bought this house and told people we lived in Kaumana, their reaction was “all the way up there”? We are only five miles up from the center of town but it’s that “up” to 1100 feet and the empty expanses between the center of town and here that makes our neighborhood feel far away. No more.

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Where once there was a forest, now there is the Hospice of Hilo.

Since the early 2000s, we’ve had two new thoroughfares plow through forest to offer other connections to the heart of Hilo and now new developments are popping up along those major roads.

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The new Kapiolani Street connector! From Mohouli to Lanikaula.

Again, mixed feelings: I love that I have options for getting down the mountain, especially if the lava ever starts flowing from Mauna Loa again, and I know I will like the new park they are putting in this community. But I really liked that feeling of semi-isolation, that pretty quiet feel of living “up here” but still connected to the grid. There are plans for a small commercial lot and rumor has it there will be a 7-11 going in. Pretty soon it seems, Kaumana won’t be “up there” any more than Waiakea, once its own separate town, is “out there”.

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So many new stoplights in Hilo!

It’s actually kind of shocking to me to tick off all of the new streets, houses, commercial buildings and traffic lights that have popped up in the 16 years I’ve lived in Hilo.

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Where once there was a forest, there is now a UH Hilo dorm!

Maybe it shouldn’t be – 16 years is a long time and a lot does change. But I come from a place where everything was built already, where the town was at its maximum edges, where you never knew where one town began and another ended. I can’t imagine Hilo, once a hamlet surrounded by ocean, forest, sugar cane and mountain, blending into Papaikou and out to Keeau like that but maybe it’s possible.

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New subdivision along the new Puainako Street extension.

For now, I will cherish the year or two of relative quiet we have left “up here” in Kaumana and hope that while living in Hilo may change, Living Hilo Style will not!

 

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