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County explains next steps for Launiupoko Master Plan

By Staff | Jul 12, 2018

The 185-acre tract (in yellow) extends south from Kai Hele Ku Street and is located mauka of Honoapiilani Highway.

LAHAINA – The $758.3 million Maui County Fiscal Year 2019 Budget commenced on July 1.

From the millions allotted, the Lahaina News received one question about an allocation on page 33 of the financial document: “New County budget lists $500K for Launiupoko Master Plan! What is to be planned?” One reader posed.

It was rather challenging to get a complete answer during the July 4 holiday week, but our county officials were responsive.

West Side County Councilwoman Elle Cochran had her executive assistant, Jennifer Karaca, answer for her. “This land was purchased in Launiupoko for the West Maui Greenway Park. Both Parks and Recreation and Public Works Department (DPW) are both involved.”

Always responsive, DPW Director David Goode was not sure about the funding or the project: “Doesn’t sound like anything in DPW though. Maybe Parks?”

With the brevity of Karaca’s answer confusing, the Lahaina News researched its archives and found an article written by Cochran in January 2014: “The Maui County Council recently voted to move forward with the purchase of 185 acres of open space land mauka of Honoapiilani Highway in Launiupoko.”

“We need to set aside open space to expand our existing beach parks, leave large buffer zones to absorb drainage impacts from mauka developments and help control traffic impacts by limiting development density in the coastal areas,” she wrote four years ago.

Rod Antone, Maui County communications director, provided clarity to questions about the budget approved unanimously by the Maui County Council in late May.

In the budget, “under the West Maui Community Plan Area for the Parks Department, under the Parks Assessment Fund, it has $500,000 for Launiupoko Master Plan,” he advised.

He led us to the next official, Brianne Savage, deputy director of the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Savage was more than thorough and helpful in her explanation about the Launiupoko Master Plan process.

“As the funds will become available next week Monday,” Savage advised, “the first step is for ‘Parks’ to create the detailed project scope and then secure a consultant for the project scope. Once the scope and consultant proposal is received and accepted, then we execute a contract. This portion of the process typically is three to six months.

“Once a contract is executed,” Savage continued, “then we would begin the Master Planning process. This typically includes a series of interactive public meetings to initially hear the community’s ideas and concerns. We hold other public meetings at key points in the process; this culminates with a draft proposal. At that point, we then again would come back for more public input to make sure that what we heard and received from the community is well translated into a plan. After that last meeting, we would finalize the plan and then move forward with requesting funding from the Maui County Council to implement the Master Plan.”

The process is inclusive.

“Additionally,” Savage explained, “during the above described process, we work with an advisory committee comprised of residents and stakeholders for the area of the master plan. They additionally provide insight and direction as we move through the process and also help spread the word when we are at the point in the process to gather public input.

“Generally, the master planning process takes anywhere from 15 to 30 months, depending on the size of the plan and what surfaces during the process itself; especially if there are a variety of conflicting public interests for a location.

“It is our goal in the Parks Department to be facilitators in creating a plan that meets the needs of the community at large and is planned in a way that can be successfully implemented, operated and maintained for both immediate and long-term public use.”

The answers were thorough from the county; however, this did not appease the Lahaina News reader with the original question: “$500,000,” he exclaimed, “is ten times what is needed for a plan.”

No matter the cost, as the planning process begins, the community will be kept up-to-date on the selection of an advisory group and the commencement of the drafting of the Launiupoko Master Plan.