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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:40 a.m., Friday, May 18, 2001

UH regents approve plan to use Diamond Head land

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

A plan to use nearly eight acres on the slopes of Diamond Head to expand Kapi'olani Community College's culinary arts program won approval today from the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents.

Regents have directed the UH administration to try to obtain the former Cannon Club site from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The 7.65-acre parcel on the western slope of the volcano is home to the former Fort Ruger Cannon Club, the last U.S. Army property on Diamond Head that was turned over to the state in 1997.

The Army closed the Cannon Club, a private military club for 52 years, after failing to find a private contractor to run it.

KCC officials want to use the property to expand the Culinary Institute of the Pacific.

Earlier this year, the state purchased the 7.8 acres at Fort Ruger from the federal government for $440,000, although John Morton, KCC provost, said the university has not yet discussed a possible price for the property.

The culinary institute has about 500 students in a two-year program, but the hope is that the Diamond Head property would allow an expansion for some advanced year-long classes, as well as short-term course taught by local celebrity chefs, Morton said.

Alison Kay, emeritus professor of zoology and the president of the Save Diamond Head Association, said she opposes university ownership of the land. "We have been working for many, many years to make that part of the monument," Kay said.

While she didn't object to plans for the culinary school's presence there, Kay said future plans for the property may be environmentally harmful and contrary to the idea of Diamond Head as a state monument.

Regent Ah Quon McElrath suggested that the university would be a better caretaker of the Diamond Head location than the state, though.

The college cannot use the Cannon Club as it is, and would have to tear it down and build something new in its place, Morton said. KCC would adhere to the one-story, 25-foot limits for building in the Diamond Head area, he said.