Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 20, 2001

Antenna alert raised in 'Ewa Beach

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

'EWA BEACH — Peter Wokoun was searching the Internet two weeks ago for anything related to 'Ewa Beach when he came across a plan to open an AM radio station in the Leeward community. As he searched further, he found that KM Communications Inc. wants to build a 192-foot antenna on a vacant parcel next to three public schools in the center of 'Ewa Beach.

"I came across the application by this company to the FCC, opened it up and sure enough it gave the coordinates for an AM radio station," Wokoun said. "I went to a map site, punched in the coordinates and came up with the location right in an empty lot next to three schools."

The schools are James Campbell High, Ilima Intermediate and Kaimiloa Elementary schools.

"Something like this antenna should go out in the middle of an old cane field, not in a school district," Wokoun said. "I am not too sure what the long-term effects will be for little kindergarten kids for something like this. They have probably already looked at the safety concerns and the numbers may say it is safe, but you are never really sure."

Wokoun called Jeff Alexander, chairman of the 'Ewa Neighborhood Board, and the topic will be discussed at the group's next meeting in September.

KM Communications, Inc., which has its headquarters in Skokie, Ill., owns four low-power television stations, three full power television stations and three FM radio stations, and is looking to open more.

The company's plans for Hawai'i include two AM radio stations on O'ahu — in 'Ewa Beach and Makaha — and a low-power TV station on Kaua'i for local programming, said general manager Kevin Bea.

KM Communications has already completed a Federal Aviation Administration study showing the 'Ewa antenna would not be a hazard to air traffic navigation and has applied for registration with the Federal Communications Commission.

But Bea said the plans are flexible and the location of the antenna could change.

"It is a preliminary site. We had to make sure it was available to purchase or lease and that it fit with our engineering for the station," Bea said from Illinois Wednesday.

The property is owned by Dr. Elenita Alvarez, who said no lease or sale has been completed for the property.

"We have applied for a construction permit to build the radio stations with the FCC," Bea said. "That is the very first stage to even get the channel. Once that goes through then we go-ahead with the construction, finalizing the land and everything. Once we get approval from the FCC we have three years to build it."

Bea said the company would also go through the public approval process for building permits in Honolulu as actual construction gets closer.

According to the FCC, the antenna for the Makaha radio station is listed for a property at 85-578 Wai'anae Road, which is on the Lualualei Naval Reservation. The Navy already has several tall communication towers on the property.

Board chairman Jeff Alexander said airplanes fly over 'Ewa Beach at about 300 feet so a 192-foot tower is allowed, but said the antenna is out of place in a residential community.

"The highest (structure) we have in 'Ewa Beach now is 36 feet and you will be able to see it from most of the area," Alexander said. "Plans have been going on for a year and nobody has even heard about it."

Bea said the plans have not been publically discussed because they are still preliminary.

"Nothing is set in stone," Bea said, who has not visited the sites himself. "There are 10 million things that could happen to change locations or the way things happen.

"We intend to build them, and I hope everybody is not too negative about it so early when everything is not really set. I understand that if it is going in by schools, people would be concerned."

The 'Ewa Neighborhood Board will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the 'Ewa Beach Public Library.