Thursday, June 26, 2003

Outfit yields Waimea
park to Audubon

Waimea Management agreed yesterday to drop its appeal of the city's awarding of a contract to operate Waimea Falls Park to the National Audubon Society.

Yesterday was Waimea Management's last day in charge of the park.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said city attorneys told her that Waimea Management would not pursue a procurement challenge with the state.

"We're delighted that we don't need to divert any more energy or resources to contending with that," said Diana King, Audubon's acting director of the park.

Ray Greene, outgoing park manager with Waimea Management, did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.

Greene said Tuesday that he was glad that a number of Waimea Management employees have been hired by Audubon. He also said he will spend several months closing down the books of Waimea Management, then pursue other business opportunities.

Waimea Management operated the park from February 2002 until yesterday and will owe the city 20 percent of its net profits during that time, city Deputy Managing Director Malcolm Tom said Tuesday.

Audubon took over management of the park at 12:01 a.m. today. The park will be closed until 1 p.m. Saturday while Audubon staff moves in and sets up.

"We're very excited," King said, noting that as a national organization, Audubon can bring in experts to help with different aspects of the park. She said up to nine people from the national office will be assisting with the transition over the next few weeks.

On July 7 a Circuit Court judge will consider whether the $5.1 million the city proposed to pay for the park under condemnation proceedings is a reasonable price.

The park's reopening under Audubon Saturday will be low-key, King said.

A grand opening is tentatively planned for October, in conjunction with the Hawaiian observance of makahiki, the winter season.


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