HONOLULU - A bill to purchase land at Lipoa Point at Honolua Bay for permanent preservation passed unanimously out of the State House of Representatives last week Thursday.
The measure, House Bill 1424, passed first reading in the Hawaii Senate on Friday.
"I fully support the acquisition of Lipoa Point," said Maui County Council Chair Gladys Baisa.
"I am very grateful to our Maui Representatives McKelvey, Carroll, Ing, Woodson, Souki and Yamashita for introducing this very important measure."
The bill appropriates an unspecified sum of general obligation bonds for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, in consultation with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, to purchase the parcel of land.
"Since 2007, the mayor and the council have consistently pledged $1 million for the acquisition of this land, but we cannot do it alone," said Baisa.
She thanked the Save Honolua Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, The Trust for Public Land and the hundreds of individuals who have tirelessly lobbied to protect the pristine parcel of land.
"The parcel was pledged against a pension fund," said Baisa. "Passage of this measure will also ensure the safety of pension benefits for hundreds of Maui Land & Pine retirees."
The Senate must also pass the measure. The public can track its progress at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.
"I urge the Senate to do what is right and appropriate the necessary funds to acquire this land," said Baisa.
Tenth District Rep. Angus McKelvey of Lahaina said Honolua supporters must continue lobbying for HB 1424.
"Even though the bill has passed the House, we are only at the proverbial half-time of the game, so to speak," McKelvey said, explaining that the bill has to go through the same public hearing process as in the House.
"So, once again, public testimony will be critical for passage of the bill in the Senate, especially since it did not originate in that chamber."
Residents, county officials and Maui Land & Pineapple Co. Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Churchill testified in favor of the bill.
"The entire community of Maui, and indeed all of Hawaii, would forever regret to not do everything we can to try to protect this iconic landscape from being 'sold off.' For the reef, for the surfers, for the culture, for the open view plane and public access, for our children's children's children ask the DLNR to work alongside the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust to acquire this parcel to protect for perpetuity," Susan Conway Kean testified.
Sara Smith commented, "The preservation of Lipoa Point is deeply important to the Maui community, especially those of us who grew up in the area. The very real threat of development is painfully evident all along the West Maui coastline. At this critical juncture, please exhaust the full capabilities of the Hawaii State legislature to see this land into conservation."
West Maui County Councilwoman Elle Cochran testified, "As the founder of Save Honolua Coalition (2006), I have fought diligently, alongside my fellow coalition members and a very active and supportive community, to preserve this unspoiled coastline and marine life conservation district. As a world-renowned snorkeling and surfing spot, it attracts locals and visitors alike, year-round.
"The true value of Honolua and Lipoa Point cannot thoroughly be measured by a monetary figure; to the people that care for the land and the marine life that exist in the area, it is far more personal and subjective than any sum could allow. The archeological and cultural significance of this place is invaluable and priceless to the people that love it. This area should be preserved and conserved in perpetuity. If it were not for the passion that I felt for this special place, I would have never been empowered to run for political office. It is places like Honolua and Lipoa Point that make Maui no ka oi."