Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Councilman Rod Tam, right, yesterday proposed Koko Crater as a landfill site. Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, left, said later he was surprised by the idea.

Koko Crater
dump proposed

Councilman Rod Tam
names the East Oahu site
after resistance to
a Campbell landfill

The search for Oahu's next landfill took a bizarre turn yesterday when City Councilman Rod Tam suggested scenic Koko Crater in Hawaii Kai as a possible location.


What: City Council Public Works Committee hearing on a proposed landfill in Campbell Industrial Park. People may also comment on a proposal that Koko Crater in Hawaii Kai be used as a landfill.

When: 2 p.m. Monday

Where: Second-floor committee room at Honolulu Hale

To testify: Visit www.co.honolulu.hi.us/council/agendas.htm; fax a request to 527-5733; fill out a form in person; or call 523-4369.

The suggestion surprised even Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who stood beside Tam as he made the Koko Crater announcement yesterday at a joint news conference.

"I didn't know about this until he said it," Dela Cruz said yesterday after the press conference in his office.

Tam said he was floating the idea of a landfill in Koko Crater because of negative public reaction to the site chosen by his Public Works and Economic Development Committee on Friday.

The committee voted 4-0 Friday to recommend a 23-acre, city-owned site in Campbell Industrial Park, next to the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant. That 11th-hour decision, which was also a surprise, ignored five finalist sites that had been through a screening process: Maili, Makaiwa Gulch, Nanakuli and an expansion of Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, all on the Leeward Coast; and Kapaa Quarry in Kailua.

Tam said yesterday he was putting Koko Crater out for discussion based on a suggestion he received Monday. But he wouldn't say who suggested the site, how many acres it encompasses or why it would make a good landfill location. He also said he wasn't sure whether it was city-owned or over an aquifer.

Tam insisted that the Koko Crater site is a serious suggestion, noting that it had been on an original list of sites considered in 2003 by a citizens panel.

Councilman Charles Djou, who represents Hawaii Kai, blasted Tam's proposal as "utterly ridiculous."

"The landfill selection process by the City Council over the past several days shows government at its worst," Djou said. "The Public Works chair's methodology to throw out all of the recommendations of the blue-ribbon panel and ignore all of the public hearings on the location of a landfill is utterly irresponsible.

"The council is simply blindsiding the public with a preposterous selection process."

The volcanic tuff cone crater is owned by the city and houses the 60-acre Koko Crater Botanical Garden and a horseback-riding stable. It is reached via a two-lane residential road off Kealahou Street, which runs between Kalanianaole Highway and Hawaii Kai Drive.

"This does not appear to be a well-thought-out proposal and possibly is a proposal that is presented in desperation over the totally inadequate proposal to use Campbell Industrial Park land," said Donald Clegg, a consultant for Konakoh Inc., developer of the new 70-home Koko Villas at the base of the crater.

"Koko Crater is an important symbol of Hawaiian culture and cannot be utilized in this manner," Clegg said. "Not to mention that it would require hundreds of garbage trucks driving on Kalanianaole Highway and through the city to get there."

Djou also said he believes other Council members are attempting to pressure him to support the Campbell Industrial Park site.

Dela Cruz said a public hearing Monday will allow people to comment on the Public Works Committee's proposed to put a landfill at Campbell Industrial Park. But people may testify about the Koko Crater site as well, he said.

City Managing Director Ben Lee called the Campbell site "absolutely not feasible" because of endangered plants. Even if the land could be used, it would provide at most two years of landfill capacity, he said.

He noted that getting federal approval to move endangered plants that stood in the route of the North-South Road in Kapolei took seven years.

Even if the plants weren't an issue, any landfill at the Campbell Industrial Park site would require building a 90-foot-tall "truncated pyramid" that is 15 1/2 acres at its base and 2 1/2 acres on top. Excavating wouldn't be allowed by landfill rules because sea level is 10 feet underground, he said.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said yesterday she was surprised with Tam's Koko Crater suggestion.

She said she still thinks the site next to HPOWER makes sense, because a conventional landfill may never be needed if alternative technologies can be used to reduce the trash going to a landfill.

Councilman Mike Gabbard, who opposes any new landfill on Oahu, said he will not vote to support the 23-acre site as a traditional landfill, but he would vote to use a portion of it as a transfer station for shipping garbage to a mainland landfill.

The Council faces a Dec. 1 deadline to pick a new landfill.



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