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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!