Largest county park coming to Ka'u coast
HILO, Hawai'i — Hawai'i County is poised to turn 225 acres of coastal land in Ka'u into the largest county park in the state.
The federal, state and county governments chipped in about $3.23 million for the land, while fundraisers collected about $170,000.
The plot includes one mile of Honu'apo coastline and wetlands next to Whittington Park on the island's southern coast.
The county and a Ka'u community group called Ka 'Ohana O Honu'apo, which was instrumental in arranging the purchase, will manage the land.
"We can't wait for people to take care of our special places," said John Replogle, a Ka'u resident and Ka 'Ohana O Honu'apo member. "People have to get on it and do it themselves."
He said studies on the area's water, soil, wildlife and reef would determine what kind of facilities could be set up.
"There's a lot that needs to be done before we (construct) anything," Replogle said.
Pam Mizuno, the county's deputy director of parks and recreation, said a $1.46 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dictates that any facilities in the new park must be low-impact.
The Trust for Public Lands bought the land from a California-based investment company called Landco.
The nonprofit conservancy is holding onto the land until it can sell the property to the state, which will turn it over to the county by executive order.
Josh Stanbro, Hawai'i project manager for the trust, said he expected to turn the land over to the state by the end of February.
The sale stalled last month when the state decided it had to do its own appraisal on the land instead of accepting the one commissioned by the trust.