Thursday, September 16, 1999

Hearing targets H-1
expansion’s effect on
homes, church

Residents and Department
of Transportation workers discuss
concerns and offer written
or taped testimony

By Harold Morse


Waimalu Grace Brethren Church and Pre-School, a fixture in Aiea since 1983, is in an unsafe place in the eyes of highway builders.

Even if the state were not adding a sixth westbound lane to the freeway, the church at 98-342 Ponohana Place would have to move because chunks of concrete might fall on it from the existing freeway, state officials say.


Nine homes and the church that would be displaced by the widening of the H-1 freeway westbound from five to six lanes from Kaonohi Street to the Waiau Interchange, also known as Pearl City exit, were the focus of testimony last night at Waimalu Elementary School cafeteria

The hearing was different in that no testimony was read to the group. It was either recorded on tape individually, recorded by a court reporter individually or submitted in written form on sheets provided. More is expected to be submitted in the next 11 days.

Ron Tsuzuki, head planning engineer for the state Highways Division, said this hearing format has been used on the mainland and is relatively new here.

Some people who might be reluctant to speak before a large group may relay their comments more readily in this less formal setting, Tsuzuki said. "It's not as intimidating."

A number of state Department of Transportation people were on hand to discuss the project with residents informally. Project-related displays were set up. A 10-minute video played repeatedly to explain the project. Although about 100 residents were on hand when the 6:30 p.m. hearing began, only a handful remained by 8 p.m.

Judy Hiromura, church member and resident of nearby Waimalu Gardens, who earlier put testimony on tape, said if the church has to move, a big concern is state help in relocating.

"They want us to permanently move out of there," she said. "They don't want to risk the possibility of injury."

"My main issue is I hope the state just doesn't forget about us. I want them to do whatever they can to help us to relocate." The church has an excellent youth program and guides young people away from trouble, she said.

Brad Scully, a church elder, said the state no longer wants to lease property underneath the freeway, but the church has many years left on its 55-year lease. "They're going to cancel our lease."

He said he hopes for a fair and equitable settlement. "We couldn't afford to go out and replace what we've got now." Scully said he would submit his testimony in written form before the Sept. 27 deadline. "My concern is a fair deal for the church," he said.

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