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County budget funds West Maui priorities

June 28, 2012
ELLE COCHRAN , Lahaina News

A fter a grueling budget session this year, the County Council members are back in full swing and focusing closely on the General Plan review.

This budget session, West Maui received the highest amount of funding for capital improvement projects (by district) with a total of $23.9 million. A lot of focus went toward much-needed West Maui sewer improvements, to the tune of $7.25 million. Another $3.5 million went to our recycled water system expansion, and $1 million was allocated for water supply source improvements.

We were able to accommodate a request that came through last budget session for three new firefighter positions in West Maui. This will help to cut down on costly overtime and alleviate pressure for overworked firefighters in West Maui. We also allocated funding for the Maui Nui Canoe Race through the Economic Development Initiative Grant, in order to facilitate and organize this exciting event that brings national attention to West Maui and to Maui County.

Article Photos

Cochran

We put in $1.1 million for the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control Project, as well as a $321,000 grant for West Maui Watershed Protection. Some $2.24 million went toward affordable housing projects in West Maui, and we were able to secure a grant for the land acquisition of .217 acres in Honolua for $31,500.

One important focus that I had for this session was to improve lighting for our parks and fields in West Maui. Approximately $35,000 was allocated for designing the Lahaina Recreation Center ball field lighting. We also put in $500,000 for Lahaina Civic Center Amphitheater improvements and $150,000 for Wahikuli Beach Park pavilion improvements.

All-in-all, the budget sessions each year are a lot of give and take with compromise on everyone's part. I feel that our district was given a lot of fair consideration, and that these budget allocations are important and highly necessary improvement projects that were long overdue. I am happy with the outcome and hope that my West Maui constituents are as well.

Each fiscal year will bring new challenges and with them will come new focus. As always, I welcome community input and requests for capital improvement projects for the upcoming 2013 budget session, which will come quickly. Feel free to send my office your requests and to draw my attention to matters that are important to you. Even if the money cannot be set aside immediately in every instance, it is crucial to keep an open line of communication before decision making takes place.

The General Plan review that is currently taking place is another decision-making process that I highly encourage community involvement and input. Please submit testimony, and, if your time permits, feel welcome to come to the Council Chambers and voice your opinions, as we take on the daunting task of shaping the future growth boundaries of your community. If you feel strongly one way or another about your vision for the growth of West Maui, this is the time to let the committee members know. The decisions that we make today will affect the West Maui that you will see tomorrow.

We have already completed our review of the Central Maui and South Maui districts and are currently working on the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula review. Following Upcountry, we will begin our work on Paia and Haiku. West Maui's review will commence upon completion of Paia and Haiku. Since the schedule is tentative and several factors influence the pace at which we complete each area, it is difficult to say with confidence what date West Maui will begin. However, you are welcome to submit written testimony at any time between now and then, and I may be able to update you better in our July column in the Lahaina News.

As I am sure most of you are aware, there are several development projects that have already been approved for West Maui from Honolua to Olowalu, adding more than 16,000 new units to the district.

During this General Plan review of West Maui, we will be discussing projects that have been in the works for quite some time, as well as newly proposed projects. Just to highlight a few: Olowalu Town (approximately 1,500 units), Villages of Leiali'i (4,709 units), Kaanapali 2020 (4,181 units) and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Honokowai project (1,250 units).

I feel that it is very important to take a holistic approach in planning our communities and to consider the impacts and benefits of future development projects, and how they might contribute to the big picture and overall quality of life for West Maui residents.

Please take time to consider both the benefits and impacts of future development in our district and voice your opinion during this General Plan review of West Maui. You can send your testimony to gp.committee@mauicounty.us or testify in person when West Maui is placed on the agenda. I will do my best to keep you posted as to when that might be in the next month.

Feel free to contact my office for more frequent updates on the General Plan schedule if you are interested in testifying in person. My staff will be happy to assist you as information becomes available. You can reach my office at 270-5504.

 
 
 

 

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