Air Force reduces plans to develop 400 Bellows acres


POSTED: Saturday, July 18, 2009

The U.S. Air Force has scaled back plans to develop 400 acres at Bellows Air Force Station for recreational use, but one Waimanalo opponent says the key issue remains the military's ownership of the land.

The use and ownership of the Bellows Air Force Station land was discussed at Monday night's Waimanalo Neighborhood Board meeting, but the resolution was delayed until a larger meeting is held in August or September, according to Wilson Kekoa Ho, chairman of the neighborhood board.

On Monday, Waimanalo resident Joseph Ryan proposed a resolution asking the U.S. Air Force to give the land back to the state, saying it is no longer being used for critical military purposes.

The military has used Bellows for recreation and training since 1951, said Air Force Capt. Christy Stravolo.

“;When it came up for a vote on the resolution, there was a lot of verbal comments by Hawaiians talking about sovereignty and land titles, and I guess the whole room got caught up in discussing Hawaiian issues,”; said Ho.

He added that the board does not have the power to force the Air Force to give up the land, but if the resolution passes, the decision will be forwarded to the congressional delegation.

“;What kind of concerns me is that we're a larger community of multiraces and multicultural people. The military is part of the community, and we still have to work with them,”; Ho said.

According to a March environmental assessment, the Air Force planned to build 48 vacation rentals, a nine-hole disc golf course, a community activity center, a car wash, a water park, a resort pool and a nine-hole par-3 golf course. Ryan proposed his resolution after that assessment was released.

However, Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Howie Chandler decided in June to reduce the construction to 16 cabins, according to 2nd Lt. Jason Smith, who attended the meeting with Maj. Kenneth Hoffman and Capt. Rick Pelzl.

“;It doesn't necessarily fit what's in our vision for Bellows. The PACAF commander reviewed the assessment and decided that the 16 cabins was the way to go,”; Smith said.

The new units will be built on an old runway, and construction will cost $5.2 million, paid for by nonappropriated funds generated from profits through Bellows Air Force Station, according to Air Force officials.

Smith said construction would not start before March. He said that in the meantime the military will continue to “;keep being good stewards of the land and go to community meetings.”;