BOE members reject land-swap deal
What ever happened to the land-swap proposal by a developer last year that raised hopes of a new campus for aging Kailua High School?
Answer: Board of Education members chosen to study the offer have recommended against pursuing it, likely dooming its chances when it comes before the board for approval.
The offer was made last September by Sound Investments LLC, a company controlled by the owners of the New York Islanders hockey team and the now-defunct Hawaii Islanders arena football team.
The current Kailua High School site would have been handed over to the company, which wanted to develop housing there, in exchange for 97 acres of nearby land at the base of Mount Olomana, plus $70 million to build a school at the new site.
However, the Olomana site appears unsuitable, said BOE member Herbert Watanabe.
Among other problems, the sloping site would be difficult to build on, has exhibited drainage "issues" during heavy rain and is accessible only by a potentially dangerous winding road from Kalanianaole Highway, Watanabe said.
It is currently zoned conservation land "in perpetuity" -- indicating a tough battle to change the zoning, he said.
Moreover, the $70 million for construction of the new site is about half the likely price tag, he said.
"It's didn't add up for us," Watanabe said.
However, the study group's final report to the board will stress the continued need for a new campus for Kailua High, said BOE member Paul Vierling, chairman of the group.
"That old school is going to fall down around our ankles soon," he said.
This update was written by Dan Martin.