Ariyoshi urges care with N. Shore plan
A preservationist and former governor says Lingle must prioritize
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Gov. Linda Lingle's ambitious goal for the state to buy 850 acres at Turtle Bay Resort has raised the eyebrows of a proven advocate of Oahu land preservation, former Gov. George Ariyoshi.
"If you had all the money in the world, it might by OK, but you have to prioritize," Ariyoshi said. Thirty years ago, Ariyoshi came up with a plan that led to the state purchase of Waiahole-Waikane valleys, Heeia-Kea Matson Point, 1,400 acres at Sacred Falls, and other areas. He suggested that Lingle consider how to proceed with more care.
House Speaker Calvin Say, meanwhile, predicted that achieving Lingle's goal might take three years.
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Gov. Linda Lingle has started discussions with private agencies such as the Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Lands and the federal Interior Department in a search for funds to buy 850 acres of the North Shore to stop a hotel development.
At the same time, former Gov. George Ariyoshi, who with his Windward Regional Plan 30 years ago preserved much of Windward Oahu's rural lifestyle, says Lingle should prioritize and develop a plan for her preservation ideas.
Ariyoshi spoke out in 2006 against increased Turtle Bay development in a magazine column, saying, "In my view, we had best do what we can to preserve the rural character of the Windward side."
He continued, "Turtle Bay is another instance in which we are still trying to define ourselves in the post-plantation era. To succeed we need more thinking, more discussion and more planning. Otherwise, we will continue to drift from project to project, and incrementally we will lose what we hold most dear about Hawaii."
In an interview last week, Ariyoshi said that while he does not want to see more hotels built on the North Shore, Lingle does need a plan.
"She's talking about buying the resort. Well, if you had all the money in the world, it might by OK, but you have to prioritize," Ariyoshi said.
Lingle said she is not familiar with Ariyoshi's 1978 plan, which resulted in the state buying Waiahole-Waikane valleys, Heeia-Kea Matson Point, 1,400 acres at Sacred Falls, Kaiaka Point in Haleiwa and Malaekahana. But she emphasized her concern at stopping a planned five-hotel resort at Turtle Bay.
"If we knowingly allow five more hotels and time shares on the North Shore, we are derelict in our duty," she said. "We know the impact it will have, the impact on our lifestyle, the pressure it will apply. ... To me we have a responsibility to try everything we can to make this happen."
Lingle met privately Thursday with House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa to start discussions. Hanabusa and Say said they were caught by surprise by Lingle's announcement about Turtle Bay in her State of the State speech Tuesday.
"Everyone would like to see this happen, but the reality is, how do we do it?" Hanabusa said. "There is no bill; there was no resolution submitted; there is nothing to start a formalized discussion with the public."
Say also is in favor but noted that when Ariyoshi started his plans to preserve the Windward side, it was after rounds of community meetings and discussions.
"The difference is, then there was a philosophy," Say said. "This is something she wants to get done in six to eight months. My comment is, this will take three years."
Ariyoshi also noted that Lingle's track record on preservation has not been clear, pointing out that she backed the Hawaii Community Development Agency when it wanted to put condominiums on undeveloped state land at Kewalo Basin.
"If she is concerned about keeping areas under state control, why did she want to develop the Kewalo Basin property?" Ariyoshi said. "This is contrary to what she is talking about at Turtle Bay. She talks about one thing but her actions are very contrary."
He suggested that Lingle consider how to proceed with more care.
"When you take a step like this, you have to really look carefully at it, see how you are going to make it happen. You have got to talk to all of those who are going to be involved and not just spring it in the State of the State," Ariyoshi said.
Lingle said she talked to a Realtor who had a client interested in purchasing just the hotel and golf course, and she plans on talking to the private equity firm, Oaktree Capital Management LP, which owns Kuilima Resort, Turtle Bay's owner.
In exploring federal funding possibilities, Lingle said she has been in touch with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
"I sent him a quick one-page brief," Lingle said. "He is going to be meeting with his assistant secretaries, and he will raise whether there are funds to go after for this type of a purchase."