City Council seeks to accept land and parks donated by A&B | News, Sports, Jobs
Despite potentially much-needed infrastructure improvements that could cost up to $3 million, a Maui County Council committee has recommended accepting eight road lots donated to Kahului by owner Alexander & Baldwin Hawaii LLC.
Mayor Michael Victorino announced last month that A&B would donate certain beach parks and open space to the county, including an area of the North Shore that the county had considered purchasing. The mayor sent two resolutions to the Maui County Council approving the acquisition of the donated land.
On Monday, the infrastructure and transportation committee voted unanimously to recommend passing a resolution that would allow the county to accept properties, ranging from about 18,000 square feet to about 3.6 acres, on Dairy Road and one block from Alamaha Street.
These plots stretch from the Costco area to the old Harley Davidson store. Some of the parcels encompass areas of the Kahului Industrial Park, the Maui Electric Company Dairy Road Subdivision, and the Airport Industrial Subdivision.
Director of Public Works Jordan Molina said the pavement is currently not up to county standards, so if council decides to approve the A&B acquisition, there will be a lot of much-needed work to do, such as the improvement of certain sidewalks. , shoulders and road signaling equipment, as well as the resolution of some minor encroachments in various places and the possible improvement of bike paths.
The state Department of Transportation operated and maintained the road before the construction of the new airport access road, said committee chairman Yuki Lei Sugimura.
“So there are things to clean up with that dedication, but that being said, you know, it’s a road that’s been used a lot and been used for a long time,” Molina said. “It is appropriate for the county to manage this road. It has regional connectivity, there are several highways feeding it, industrial areas feeding it, commercial areas feeding it, so we are generally in favor of the county controlling this road.
If and when the property is acquired by the county, Molina said any work done on Dairy Road will be added to their list of capital improvement projects for funding. All possible improvements would be “almost real” add up to $3 million for the entire segment and projects could take a while, he said.
However, Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization and the county could identify improvement projects as a priority to shorten the timeline, Molina said.
Sugimura, along with council members Tasha Kama, Alice Lee, Mike Molina and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez voted unanimously to recommend the resolution pass first reading. Kelly King and Tamara Paltin have been excused.
The committee also discussed the possible acquisition of several plots and parks from A&B on the North Shore, including the much-discussed Wawau Point in Paia.
However, the two-plot sandy property stretching from Wawau Point, also known as Baby Beach, to Baldwin Beach Park has been reduced to 23 acres from the originally proposed 29.9 acres. A change was made to the resolution to include an exclusive 6.91-acre easement behind Baby Beach, which would be acquired by the Maui Country Club, in accordance with previous negotiations between the club and A&B, the county budget manager said, Michele Yoshimura.
If the county acquired the donated 23 acres, it would be kept as open space for land conservation, according to the council.
“It is important to see the area protected and preserved and, where possible, to ensure that it is maintained as a natural buffer, which I think serves us all in terms of infrastructure protection against coastal risks”, said Tara Owens, a coastal process and coastal risk specialist from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant, during the committee meeting. “The best form of risk mitigation is the preservation of open space, which is what we aim for here…You want, as much as possible, to keep a large plot intact as this maintains and maximizes your flexibility in the future, in the future, scenarios with sea level rise, in coastal management.
Unsure of what would happen to the acquisition and boundaries of the Maui Country Club subdivision, shoreline activist Kai Nishiki said she hopes to see zoning changes made or protections put in place to ensure the property remains a space open.
Yet receiving the 23 acres from Wawau Point to Baldwin would be a “very precious” acquisition for the county, Nishiki said.
Hawaii Sea Grant also just received a $1.4 million federal grant to be spent on dune and ecosystem restoration at Kapukaulua (Baldwin Beach Park), so between that and the potential land transfer, said Owens. “It seems like there are a lot of good opportunities coming together at the same time.”
David Yamashita, planner with the county’s parks and recreation department, said the Baldwin Beach Park transfer donation would help prepare and complete an adaptation plan, including the results of the vulnerability study, the strategy mitigation and dune restoration plans by UH Sea Grant.
“It will be a more complete study”, Yamashita said. “We believe the additional land area will expand the scope of the study, I think especially when dealing with management recommendations for Wawau Point.”
A&B also offered to donate the Ulmer Lime Kiln subdivision in Paia to the county; the Mama’s Fish House subdivision in Kuau, which is the shoreline east of the restaurant containing 3,999 acres; a 1.4 acre property at Maliko Gulch, mauka of Hana Highway; Rainbow Park in Paia, containing 2,359 acres; the First Hawaiian Bank Subdivision in Kalua, which is the commercial land adjacent to Hoaloha Park containing 64,259 square feet; and the 61,991 square foot Maui Hukilau Hotel subdivision in Kalua.
Some of these plots are already managed and maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
However, Parks and Recreation Director Karla Peters said the department is still looking to manage and make the most of the additional land, such as the Maliko Gulch plot, which has often had issues with abandoned vehicles, has said council member Mike Molina.
Calling the seven parcels “wonderful gifts” Sugimura said the committee will revisit the item on Oct. 7 to ensure the document is updated and made public with the changes discussed regarding the Maui Country Club easement.
Overall, Sugimura said that “I think we all see how good this is going to do for the community.”
* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected]