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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

City to take first step in Waimea Valley acquisition

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser city hall Writer

The Honolulu City Council tomorrow is expected to approve the first legal step toward the city acquiring scenic Waimea Valley through condemnation.

The 1,875-acre valley on O'ahu's North Shore includes a landmark waterfall, streams, native forests, an arboretum with rare and endangered Hawaiian and South Pacific plants, and several significant archaeological sites. It also features the 300-acre Waimea Valley Adventure Park and more than 1,500 acres of undeveloped land.

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said he believes the council will approve the legal move, so that the next important step would be to determine what price the city will pay the owner.

In August, New York investor Christian Wolffer put the property up for sale four years into a five-year plan to turn things around financially at the money-losing adventure theme park. The asking price is $25 million but the land is assessed at $5 million.

The council also is poised to pass a resolution urging the administration of Mayor Jeremy Harris to defer acquisition of Waimea Valley until the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has an opportunity to purchase the property. Some OHA officials have expressed an interest in preserving the valley.

Yoshimura said he believes the city has valuable experience running parks but is flexible to various management options.

"We need to assure the public that this precious resource will be in responsible hands," Yoshimura said. "We can best do that by having the city acquire it."