Molokai groups stage protest
Water is a key issue for many who oppose development plans
WAILUKU » More than 100 Molokai residents picketed two state agencies yesterday whose members have supported a proposed 200-lot development at Laau Point on the island's west side.
Hui Ho'o Pakele Aina and several Hawaiian homestead groups demonstrated on Molokai to protest the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands over the agencies' support for Molokai Properties Ltd.'s proposed development.
Hui Ho'o Pakele and homesteaders fear the development will take away water needed for farming and also the fishing grounds at Laau.
Hui Ho'o Pakele spokesman Walter Ritte said OHA trustee Colette Machado and Hawaiian Homes Commissioner Milton Pa have appeared in videos supporting the development, despite opposition from Molokai residents.
Machado said the project has the support of many residents, and Molokai Ranch has assured them that no additional water will be taken for the development. She said Molokai Properties' plan also protects native Hawaiian cultural sites and access to fishing grounds, and saves the lands from further development.
"I believe this is a reasonable and balanced plan that reflects the values of the majority of the Molokai community," Machado said.
Molokai Properties, owned by the Singaporean-based BIL International Ltd., said it plans to use revenues from Laau to help finance a $35 million renovation of the Kaluakoi resort, including its 144-room hotel that closed in 2000. Its master plan includes placing about 26,200 acres in trust for Molokai residents.
Cammy Purdy, representing five Hawaiian homestead associations, said Molokai Properties plans to use about 1 million gallons of brackish water for its golf course, and the water is coming from the same underground source as potable water.
"For me it's about saving our water," she said.
Purdy said she wants the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to intervene and represent the water interests of homesteaders.
Molokai Properties declined to comment, and Pa was unavailable for comment.