Proper Plaque To Honor Keao

Jessica Goolsby
Wednesday - November 11, 2009
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The late Donald Keao will soon receive long-overdue recognition for his contributions to the Haleiwa community - this time in the way he deserves.

Keao was instrumental in pushing the city to install a new public restroom area at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park before his death, and since has been nominated by the community to receive public recognition for his part in making that dream a reality. Only problem was, the means by which he was originally honored, well, stunk.

“When people in that neighborhood mentioned the idea, the city got wind of it and said they wanted to create a plaque in his honor,“said North Shore Neighborhood Board chairman Michael Lyons. “But when the community found out that the proposed plaque was going to cost around $6,000, they didn’t like it, so they voted not to support it. As a result, the city went in anyway and put up an aluminum-looking nameplate for Mr. Keao, and it just ended up looking cheap and embarrassing.”

The nameplate sits on the bathroom wall facing the parking lot and is painted brown and white. It is assumed to be made of aluminum, though no confirmation could be made at press time.

“We’ve named benches, bridges, roads, tunnels, schools, all of these things, after people. It’s just that, to some people, to name a bathroom after such a good man is just inappropriate because of its purpose,“Lyons said.“I mean, it’s a very nice bathroom and it serves the public, so that’s not the issue here. Just honor the man more appropriately.”

At the July 28 board meeting, extreme concern was voiced about the sign’s placement and, as a result, the city stepped in again and announced that it would replace the nameplate with a better plaque that would not cost as much as the initially projected amount. Wilfred Ho, manager of District 4 of the city parks department, agrees with the move to replacement plan.“I’m working with April Cuesta, Donald’s daughter, on this issue,” he said. “At this time, we needed to confirm the wording and place the order. In the meantime, this temporary sign has been put up. April agreed that her father would’ve hit the ceiling if they’d spent $6,000 on a plaque for him. Instead, she and I have agreed on a plaque that would probably be closer to the $1,000 range.”

Ho said that he and Cuesta met Oct. 19 to discuss the new plaque and were able to settle on a design. All that remains is to obtain city approval to purchase the plaque and to set a date to dedicate it.

“I felt really bad for Keao’s daughter who came to the board meeting,and I just want it all to work out for the best,” added Lyons.“That nameplate was just not the way to honor somebody. If you’re going to do something, do it right.”

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