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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 4, 2010

Nānākuli park plan gets key approval

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Plans to create a regional park in Nānākuli appear to be back on track after receiving a key approval from the City Council's Planning Committee yesterday.

But the owner of the property being considered is warning that there could be dire consequences if the city carries through with the proposal.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann's budget sets aside $3 million for purchase of the property, which is about what the city believes is the parcel's value.

The 50-acre parcel is off Lualualei Naval Road, about a quarter of a mile mauka of Farrington Highway.

The committee yesterday advanced Resolution 10-114, which places a "park symbol" on the property in the city's Wai'anae Public Infrastructure Map.

The committee last week failed to move out the bill when three of its five members said they were concerned by the warnings from Leeward Land Co. and its sister company, PVT Land Co.

But council members were told by attorneys after last week's meeting that in order for the money to be appropriated, the park symbol designation had to be in place.

Because the final vote on the city budget is scheduled for Wednesday, the committee held an emergency meeting yesterday to move out the resolution so it can be voted on just before the budget vote.

PVT operates the PVT landfill, the only construction and demolition waste landfill on O'ahu. It's across the street from the proposed park site, which is owned by Leeward Land.

Steve Joseph, the company's general manager, said in a press release late yesterday that the existing landfill could reach capacity in six to 10 years, necessitating an expansion across the street to the area where the city wants the park.

Company officials also said yesterday that their appraisal assesses the property at $100 million, based on its highest and best use as a landfill.

Joseph said the proposed park site is one of only four on the island identified in a 2003 city study as a potential landfill construction and demolition waste.

"With no place to dispose of debris, the only alternative would be a moratorium on new construction," Joseph said. "If projects are canceled or postponed, construction will grind to a halt taking down 8 percent of Hawai'i's economy and thousands of jobs along with it."

But Council Planning Committee chairman Ikaika Anderson said after the meeting that it's "presumptuous" for the landowner to estimate the value of the property at $100 million.

He noted that in the 1990s, Kamehameha Schools argued that land along the Ka Iwi coastline near Sandy Beach was valued at $80 million because of its potential for resort development, while the state argued it was worth $11 million because it was only designated for preservation purposes.

"The state won and it paid $11 million," Anderson said.

In the PVT case, the property is now zoned for agricultural use and no application has been filed with the city for an expansion, he said.

The plan for a Nānākuli park was first introduced by Hannemann in his state of the city speech in February.

A slew of Nānākuli residents testified in favor of the park symbol, saying it's time for the Wai'anae Coast to get its fair share of city amenities.

Patty Teruya, chairwoman of the Nānākuli-Mā'ili Neighborhood Board, said that not only is the park badly needed, but the existing PVT landfill poses problems because it is in the middle a residential community.