Turtle Bay purchase a tricky undertaking
Lawmakers' hesitancy to support acquisition of nearly 900 acres on Oahu's North Shore
The Legislature has given Gov. Linda Lingle the go-ahead for her plan to buy the Turtle Bay resort property.
arose with concerns about the state's uncertain financial future and about choosing one of myriad sites just as worthy of protection against development.
Further, the property at Turtle Bay Resort is encumbered with a pending lawsuit concerning the resort's plan to expand, an agreement reached with the city more than 20 years ago with conditions for creating jobs and affordable housing as well as hundreds of millions of dollars its owners owe lenders.
But seldom does enough political will, opportunity and desire to preserve such a large swath of shoreline on a largely urbanized island materialize, and the possibility of obtaining land as a public legacy for future generations should be explored thoroughly.
That said, Gov. Linda Lingle, who came up with the idea, has a duty to cut a good deal in negotiating for purchase of the property. The state has no interest, or expertise, in running the resort for which five new hotels with as many as 3,500 units were planned.
Initial analysis indicates that the resort will have to be expanded to attract a buyer, but it cannot be so extensive as to detract from the public spaces. Public areas should not be configured to become accessories to the hotel itself, thus discouraging community use.
Acquiring the property is a huge undertaking and will likely be costly. At all stages, the public should be fully informed about the project and allowed to comment.
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