Wednesday, January 24, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Bay project foes vow to fight on

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

HAWAII KAI — A group of residents yesterday vowed to pursue their opposition of the city’s plans for an education center on the edge of Hanauma Bay, hoping for a compromise with Honolulu officials.

Hearing Feb. 9

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on Honolulu’s application for a conservation district use permit for the Hanauma Bay improvements at 9 a.m. Feb. 9 at 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 132. The public can submit testimony. For more information, call 587-0414.

But the group has been unable to get the attention of Mayor Jeremy Harris, said Dave Washino, East Honolulu Community Coalition spokesman. "The mayor has urged us all to be empowered and to join the process, and we were, and it fell on deaf ears," Washino said yesterday during a news conference at Maunalua Bay. "We need the residents of O
ahu to step up and not let the project go forward." The group opposes the project as too much development in a scenic natural area.

The city is waiting for its permit application to be considered by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, said Cynthia Bond, deputy director of human resources.

The board will hold another hearing on the matter Feb. 9.

At issue is a $12 million education center city officials want to build on the edge of the upper portion of Hanauma Bay, saying it is vital project for promoting the area’s natural resources.

Earlier this year, opponents Roy Benham and Beverly Palenapa filed a petition before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, asking it to halt the permit process and allow a contested-case hearing, which would have established a trial-like setting with witnesses, evidence and cross-examination.

Last month, the land board rejected their request for a contested-case hearing, saying their claims that they practiced their religion at Hanauma Bay did not give them legal standing.

"When I look at the issues before us, I want good decision-making," said Nainoa Thompson, who stood with the community coalition yesterday. "I hope this process will end up with good decision-making."

City officials cannot build the 13,000 square-foot education center with a gift shop, auditorium and office space without land board approval. The plan has the support of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, but the Waimanalo and Diamond Head boards oppose it.

The community coalition has always favored city plans for the lower part of the bay, including moving restrooms and building a kiosk for the Friends of Hanauma Bay.

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