Thursday, February 1, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 1, 2001

Sex abuse detention center list narrowed

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

State officials have narrowed their search of possible new sites for the Pearl City juvenile sex treatment center to Kahi Mohala psychiatric hospital in Ewa, Wahiawa near Kemoo Farm, or Kalaeloa, formerly Barbers Point, according to a draft report.

The Pearl City facility, which opened in December, treats boys ages 12 to 17 who have sexually assaulted a younger family member. State health officials said they needed to open the Pearl City center to meet a deadline set by the 1994 Felix consent decree, a U.S. District Court order which requires the state to improve mental health services for students with special needs.

Pearl City residents strongly opposed the center because it was a half-mile north of Pearl City High and Momilani Elementary schools. Gov. Ben Cayetano said the state eventually would move the center from Pearl City if a suitable location were found.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson yesterday said legislators will have the option of selecting one of the three sites by the end of the current session. The sites are listed in the draft report of the Department of Accounting and General Services.

"The legislators may also decide to select none of the sites," said Anderson, who added that the governor’s proposed budget lists $5.4 million to build a facility.

Anderson said state officials and consultant Kimura International looked at dozens of potential sites and narrowed them down to three. Deciding factors included lot configuration, topography, visibility, surrounding neighborhoods, and existing infrastructure and utilities.

If a center is built, Anderson said, it will have the same around-the-clock security as the Pearl City facility. That center has video cameras, double-locked doors, secured windows and protective fencing.

The draft study made the following comments on the three suggested locations:

Wahiawa near Kemoo Farm: The projected $1.75 million facility would be on a 2.7-acre rectangular property along Wilikina Drive, about a quarter of a mile north of Kemoo Farm restaurant, and next to a high-rise apartment building. It would be about a quarter of a mile from Hale Kula Elementary School at Schofield Barracks.

Kalaeloa: The center, estimated to cost $2.1 million, could be placed east of Shangrila Street and makai of Leyte Street near a proposed shelter for the homeless.

Kahi Mohala: With cutbacks in the state’s service contracts, the psychiatric hospital would be willing to lease all or part of one of its lower-campus units. Renovation would cost nearly $600,000 and annual lease payments would be $650,000.

State officials will make a presentation before the Ewa Neighborhood Board on Feb. 8 on the two Ewa sites. The 7 p.m. meeting will be at the Ewa Beach Public and School Library, 91-950 North Road.

"I will go into this with an open mind and listen to the presentation," said Ewa Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Mary Ann Miyashiro. "But I know there are at least two board members that would be definitely against it."

Anderson said officials will brief other area neighborhood boards representing the three sites.

State Sen. Brian Kanno, D-20th (Ewa Beach, Makakilo, Kapolei), said it is important that state officials inform residents early in the process. Some Pearl City residents were angered that they didn’t learn about the community treatment center before construction started.

"The community may have concerns they want to address: if or whether previous incidents occurred at Kahi Mohala, what type of security measures and the proximity to any schools," Kanno said.

Kanno said legislators will be briefed 9 a.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol.

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