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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Hau'ula firehouse in the works

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

HAU'ULA The City Council's Public Safety Committee has approved a resolution to condemn a little more than an acre of land to build a new Hau'ula fire station that is badly needed, officials say.

Capt. Emmit Kane, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department, said the old station on Kamehameha Highway is in a flood zone and subject to coastal inundation during high surf conditions. Built 40 years ago, the station doesn't fit the modern needs of the department, he said.

DeeDee Letts, a Ko'olauloa Neighborhood Board member, said the community wants a new station, and the 20,000-square-foot property of the old station is too small.

"They really don't have the space there to redevelop it," Letts said.

The City Council as a whole must still approve the resolution for the property on the Kahuku side of Hau'ula Kai Shopping Center.

The property is listed as belonging to CP Properties Inc. of Los Angeles, according to the city's Geographic Information System Web site. The parcel has 12.69 acres and is zoned for agriculture. CP Properties couldn't be reached for comment.

The city Department of Design and Construction is nego-tiating a purchase with the landowner, and the condemnation move is a way of assuring the owners that the city is serious about having the property, said Frank Streed, senior adviser for City Councilman Gary Okino, chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

"This lights a fire under both sides to come to some kind of agreement," Streed said, adding that the city budgeted $350,000 for the purchase several years ago.

Kane said that with soaring property values he didn't know what the land was valued at but thought it would be more than was budgeted.

"Nobody could foresee the escalation (in land prices)," he said.

The Fire Department had gone through a site selection process five years ago and identified several possible sites, Kane said. The site near the shopping center was ranked as the fourth choice.

Hau'ula residents balked at the top choice because fire equipment would be using residential roads, he said. By the time the decision was made to seek another site, several others were no longer available.

"Number 4 was less attractive, but it was a top pick," he said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.