Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Waipahu museum
fights to stay open

To help

By Rosemarie Bernardo

A decade-old museum in Waipahu depicting the lifestyles of early plantation workers may shut down next month.

Lack of attendance and falling revenues are contributing factors to the financially troubled Hawaii Plantation Village, said Executive Director Lynn Valiente.

"We don't have enough revenue to offset the operational cost," Valiente said.

The Hawaii Plantation Village, located at 94-695 Waipahu St., first opened in September 1992. Original structures and replica homes representing multiethnic groups who arrived between the late 1800s and the 1940s to work as plantation laborers are displayed at the village.

Moana Espinda, vice president of the village's heritage center, said the existence of the plantation village educates about 24,000 students about the history of plantation workers.

"This is an educational program for all of Hawaii," Espinda said.

Previously, the plantation village received more than $100,000 a year from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Valiente said. Due to budget cuts, the village received only an estimated $13,000 -- which is dwindling.

Officials were then forced to tap the village's operational and reserve fund to keep the museum open, Valiente said. Staff positions were also reduced due to limited funding.

An estimated $10,000 in operational funds and about $7,000 to $9,000 in the village's endowment fund remains to run the center until mid-July, she said.

Currently, Valiente is awaiting approval of a $250,000 loan from the Hawaii Community Loan Fund to assist with operational costs.

Meanwhile, a $10,000 grant proposal was submitted to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism as a "rescue business plan."

Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu-Pearl City), who was the village's first executive director, said members of the nonprofit organization need to build up their endowment fund to keep the village operational.

It is the only place that tells the history of why the state of Hawaii has become a multiethnic society, Kawamoto said.

Valiente is collaborating with Waikiki businesses to help draw tourists to the plantation village. During the first week of July, staff members plan to mail letters to major corporations soliciting sponsorship. In August, a fund-raiser is expected to be held at the Waikele Golf Course in August to support the plantation village.

"It's a very, very critical time right now," she said. "We are trying our best to keep the village operational."


To help

Donations to the Hawaii Plantation Village can be sent to:

Hawaii Plantation Village
94-695 Waipahu St.
Waipahu, HI 96797

E-mail to City Desk


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