Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hannemann supports
Kapolei ferry to aid growth

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann vowed yesterday to promote the development of Kapolei as an urban center on Oahu, outlining plans for investment in infrastructure, recreational activities to help "keep families together" and a passenger ferry to Honolulu.

Speaking before 130 business executives at a luncheon organized by the West Oahu Economic Development Association, Hannemann pointed out that as a mayoral candidate a year ago, he had stumped with a promise to foster further economic development in the booming area that just 15 years ago was little more than cane fields.

Now, Hannemann said, he is making good on that promise.

During his speech, Hannemann outlined a multipronged plan for maintaining the momentum, which is projected to create some 40,000 jobs in Kapolei over the next 20 years.

Some of the plans involve projects normally associated with city government: infrastructure improvements and public safety services, including a new wastewater treatment facility, fire stations and a $5 million police station.

Hannemann pledged to work closely with businesses to ease bureaucratic burdens and "engage in a collaborative partnership with you to make sure this comes to pass."

He also laid out his vision for a new ferry service to Honolulu, which would link with existing public transportation systems and allow passengers to use their bus passes to ride the ferry. This, Hannemann said, would create a critical mass of passengers needed to make ferry service economically feasible.

Other aspects of Hannemann's vision for Kapolei involved quality-of-life amenities aimed at making the place conducive to "successful families," which he said were key to the region's sustained growth.

For example, Hannemann said he envisions a Kapolei jazz festival akin to the Honolulu Jazz Festival and world-class sporting events in Ko Olina, such as tournaments organized by AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, which is scheduled to hold a major tournament in Waikiki next month.

"If all these things come to pass, my goodness, everybody's going to want to live on this side of the island," Hannemann said.

The mayor's speech followed a presentation by Donna Goth of Kapolei Property Development LLC, an affiliate of the Estate of James Campbell, which is a major landowner in the area.

Goth presented findings of two studies on demographics, jobs and traffic conducted by Decision Analysts Hawaii Inc. and OmniTrak Group Inc., which predict continuing growth for the region over the next 20 years.

Among other projections, Goth presented the following:

» The number of jobs in Kapolei is expected to grow by 160 percent, from 24,860 in 2005 to 64,720 in 2025;

» The working-age population will nearly double from 40,000 to 78,280;

» The region's commercial office space will grow to 7.6 million square feet by 2025, slightly less than the 8.4 million square feet now in Honolulu;

» And the region will produce nearly $3 billion in state and city tax revenue in the next 20 years.

With this growth also will come challenges. Although Goth said that every new job in Kapolei will effectively take one automobile off the traffic-jammed highways between the Ewa Plain and Honolulu, she said that will not be enough to eliminate traffic problems. That, she said, made Hannemann's controversial plan for a rail system essential.

Hannemann said the region's growth depends on better transportation systems. Critics say rail is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"The statistics are overwhelming that traffic will get worse if we do nothing," Hannemann said. "It's inconceivable to me not to have a traffic solution at the table."

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