Friday, March 27, 2009

McCully Fire Station update

It was always odd that the fire station I grew up near -- on the corner of Date Street and University Avenue in Mo'ili'ili -- was always called McCully Fire Station. Whatevahs. I used to go there to pick up my newspapers from Mr. Wong, and for an entire year, I delivered the Honolulu Star-Bulletin right across the street from the fire station. Anyway, the old station went down last year and the new one is looking pretty good. Modern.

Most of my friends will probably agree: one of the best things about the old fire station was the soda machine out back. Was only 25¢ for a can of Diamond Head, circa 1978. Grape and Strawberry were my favorites.

Can Bowl-O-Drome be saved?

Yes, I know the property and structure (what's left of it) are owned by Bishop Estate. That doesn't mean there can't be a creative, inspiring vision. Here's my vision, and whether you find it lacking in any way is just fine by me.

1. Restore the building. That's right. Crumbling, aging and musty, the building is a true landmark that was a sidekick to the old Honolulu Stadium. Doubt me? I grew up a few blocks away and can't remember how many times I walked past (or through) Bowl-O-Drome on the way to Wigwam or the library. The building's design is a throwback that has retro lines and height that would be beautiful again, if only there could be a well-deserved facelift.

2. Why bother? Because Honolulu is losing more and more of its landmarks. Many of the structures that go back to statehood days, to a brighter time in our history -- an era with more aloha and trust -- are going down in the name of progress. I suggest that progress and history can co-exist and actually thrive together. I suggest that the building be spared and that any development be constructed above and/or around the building. A condo could easily be built above, taking an architectural cue from the existing design.

3. Turning the bowling alley into a center for physical activity -- for youth, elderly and everyone else in between -- would make the location a mecca once again. There are tremendous projects growing across the nation that tie old communities together again, and they do it with an accent on being green. Save part of the alley, maybe four lanes, and turn the rest into areas for indoor sports (volleyball and basketball), as well as yoga, Pilates, aerobics (you name it), as well as a blended space than can serve as a lobby and meeting area. The diner that was in Bowl-O-Drome can be resurrected, as well. Go for the gusto!

Preposterous? Sure. But I sense a longing in the community for more unity and peace, as opposed to concrete and isolation.

I wish there were an association or group that would work together to collaborate and build on ideas. I'd call it SOUL: South Oahu Urban League. There's so much I'd like to see done, but if we could just save one precious place for the future, that would be enough for me.