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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 18, 2001

Underground utilities sought for Kane'ohe

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KANE'OHE — The heart of the business community in Kane'ohe could one day be free of overhead wires if the capital improvement project, one of 10 proposals to be considered, is adopted by the neighborhood board tonight.

Other projects being considered
Asphalt sidewalks on Puohala Street, $150,000
Bus shelter at Yacht Club Terrace, $10,000
Flashing light at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, $50,000
Repairs at Kane'ohe District Park, $2,000
New restrooms at Kane'ohe District Park, $20,000
Ceiling fans at Kane'ohe community center, $10,000
 •  Hedge buffer at Kane'ohe community center, $20,000
The project is expected to cost about $800,000 and would span Kamehameha Highway from Ha'iku to Waikalua roads, said Clyde Morita, chairman of the Kane'ohe Neighborhood Board.

The community has discussed the idea for years, and with Hawaiian Electric Co.'s willingness to contribute to the cost of moving utility wires underground, the board felt the project was feasible, Morita said.

At least three other areas around O'ahu are interested in placing utility wires underground: Kailua, Kalihi and Salt Lake.

Preliminary work has begun on Kailua's project, and Kalihi and Salt Lake are still in the talking stages.

These projects fall under the city vision team initiative, but Kane'ohe's comes under a new city program that allows each neighborhood board to select $1 million worth of improvements for their community.

Boards across O'ahu are finalizing their lists this month. The projects would be included in the city's fiscal 2003 budget.

In Kane'ohe, placing the wires underground would fit with a city vision project to improve the same stretch of road by planting trees, Morita said.

"This is about implementing some of the ideas people have had throughout the years," he said.

The Kane'ohe board is expected to decide on the list at its meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Kane'ohe Community and Senior Center, 45-613 Puohala Road.

The board is also considering a $200,000 proposal to install traffic lights at the main entrance to King Intermediate School that would operate only during school hours.

Students and the vice principal at King told the board last month that heavy traffic and poor visibility put students at risk.

School bus driver Ken Le Vasseur, who drives to King every day, agreed. Leaving the school in the morning and afternoon is difficult because of heavy traffic, Le Vasseur said.

Plus the students are sometimes reckless, he said, adding that within one week last year two children ran into the street and were struck by passing vehicles.

"At King School, cars don't run into kids, kids run into moving cars," Le Vasseur said.

The board is also seeking $50,000 for historical signs throughout the community. Board member Denise De Costa said Kane'ohe has about three dozen sites worth telling people about, including a heiau, cemetery and fishponds.

For instance, at the end of Waikalua Road is Kane'ohe Beach Park, where the chiefs of Hawai'i met after a war, De Costa said.

"Naoneala'a is famous in Hawai'i history," she said. "It's where the chiefs gathered to make peace. It's where chief Laamaikahiki built three heiau."

The signs would help educate the residents about the rich history of their community, De Costa said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.