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Mayor Arakawa fields questions from West Siders, Part II

By Staff | Sep 8, 2011


WAILUKU — The realignment of Honoapiilani Highway has been on the county radar screen since the Mayor James “Kimo” Apana administration (1999 through 2002).

The proposal includes relocating the state thoroughfare mauka to eliminate erosion problems where Highway 30 is literally falling into the ocean; and, at the same time, create an eight-mile coastal park from Puamana to the Pali on lands makai of the realigned road.

The reins of the movement were picked up during the first Mayor Alan M. Arakawa administration (2003-06), with then-Director of Planning Mike Foley taking the lead.

For the past four years, however, the dream of a protected public shoreline park appears to have dropped out of sight.

Recognizing that Honoapiilani is a state highway, the Lahaina News asked Mayor Arakawa for an update and for an assessment of the county’s position on this worthy project.

“The county’s role is to push the state into an action,” the county chief explained.

“Quite frankly, we’re the ones that have been initiating the studies of erosion. We’re the ones that point out the fact that every time there’s a major disaster, we have to stop the traffic — our police department has to handle all of the backup.

“There have been many commissions that have been put together to study the alignment,” the mayor continued.

“The state has put literally millions of dollars into studies on any number of occasions to study different alignments. Our role is to make sure that this doesn’t stall and stop totally.

As with most government projects, “funding is always an issue. We have to worry about the coordinating of the federal funds with the state funds and the county funds. Part of our role is also in meeting with the state to determine the prioritization of how those funds are allocated,” Arakawa added.

The mayor’s goal in his previous, pre-recession administration was far-reaching.

“We tried to get ahead of it and purchase some of the property. We purchased the area by Ukumehame,” he said.

“We almost had the Olowalu to Puamana property acquired,” Arakawa recalled. “We had been working with (Maui) Coastal Land Trust, my last administration. We had an agreement that for 20 million dollars, we were going to acquire that property.

He detailed the terms of the negotiations for the shoreline strip.

“The money for the coastal park acquisition would have been from Maui Land and Pine. Their park assessment for the Kapalua Mauka (Project District) would have been enough to cover the cost of that acquisition. Their allocation was approximately $20 million.

“We pretty much had it covered, so that the County Council would not have had to allocate more funding or borrow money. It would have come from park acquisition funds that would have been owed to the county, and Maui Pine had been agreeable to do that.

Unfortunately, “that opportunity has passed,” Arakawa said. “For whatever reason, the last (Mayor Charmaine Tavares) administration did not follow through with it.

In the meantime, “we are currently trying to renegotiate and find out what we can do, and what the property owners (of the land between Puamana to Olowalu) are willing to do now that four years have passed.

In any case, Arakawa is certain of the county’s position: “Our role is to work with the state and to keep pushing forward until we finally get the highway moved.

“That’s a given,” he said.