DLNR offers up land for stop
State agency agrees to deal to get UH-West Oahu a transit stop
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It looks like the University of Hawaii at West Oahu will get its transit stop after all.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which owns the acreage in question, said yesterday it is willing to accommodate the stop in Kapolei. The word came in a letter of intent from department Director Laura Thielen.
City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka called it a "very positive development."
Also yesterday, a City Council committee passed a measure with a map that includes the general area for each transit stop, a document critical to funding and planning of the $3.7 billion system from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources agreed yesterday to let the city build a mass-transit system through its property, which would allow construction of a stop closer to the University of Hawaii at West Oahu campus.
This is a small victory for UH-West Oahu, which wanted a stop near its planned campus.
In a letter to Mayor Mufi Hannemann yesterday, DLNR Director Laura Thielen said the department is willing to enter an arrangement under which the city could build its elevated system on 100 acres of state property in Kapolei to accommodate this transit stop as long as the remaining lands aren't negatively affected.
"Please consider this letter DLNR's firm commitment to work with UHWO and your administration to implement this UHWO conceptual plan," Thielen said, asking for a commitment for cooperation between the department, the university and the city Department of Transportation Services. "It would be disheartening to say the least, and certainly inefficient for DLNR and UHWO to invest significant time and resources in finalizing this joint development arranged if the city later rejects the route out of hand."
Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka said it was a "very positive development, something that we've been discussing since fall 2007."
UH-West Oahu Chancellor Gene Awakuni reserved comment yesterday since he hadn't seen the letter. He did say UH is in favor of mass transit and wants to help move it forward expeditiously.
A City Council committee also passed a measure yesterday with a public infrastructure map that includes the general area for each transit stop, a document critical to the funding and planning of its $3.7 billion mass-transit system from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
The committee passed the measure, amending it to include the transit stop UH-West Oahu campus proposed, one stop in Salt Lake and two in Waikiki along Kuhio Avenue.
Councilman Gary Okino, chairman of the Planning and Sustainability Committee, pushed hard for the measure in yesterday's meeting.
He emphasized the city needed the map's approval to more effectively complete its draft environmental impact statement -- a report due in the summer that should outline the precise route and stops.
Hannemann had said the city left it to UH-West Oahu to reach this agreement with DLNR since they are both state agencies. He had also criticized DLNR, saying it had a bad track record when working with the city.
Thielen also added in the letter that she did not agree with Hannemann's statements about dealing with DLNR.
The city had proposed an alignment that would have a stop about a half-mile away in the adjacent Hoopili Development.
Councilman Todd Apo criticized the city administration, saying they should have contacted DLNR directly earlier.
"It's a city project," said Apo, who represents Kapolei. "When we still haven't had a meeting with the (DLNR) director yet, that amazes me. If this element was that key, I expect the city to do these things."