Saturday, September 18, 1999

Kamehameha campus
Hilo plan backed

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- Hawaii County planners have voted to back a new Kamehameha Schools campus in Hilo, despite traffic worries and protests that it doesn't belong on Hawaiian Homes land.

Kamehameha Schools wants to build the kindergarten through 12th-grade facility on 176 acres in the Panaewa Forest on the southern edge of the city.

Because the campus would be more than 15 acres in size and on lands designated for agriculture, the state Land Use Commission will make the final ruling.

The county Planning Commission voted yesterday to send a favorable recommendation to the Land Use Commission.

Hawaiian Homes critics Linda Dela Cruz and Patrick Kahawaiolaa protested against building the school on Hawaiian Homes land.

"What's wrong with building it in east Hawaii on your own lands?" Kahawaiolaa asked Kamehameha representatives.

Kamehameha attorney William Yuen said the plan is to lease the site until Hawaiian Homes can trade the 176 acres of rocky ground for 110 acres of Bishop Estate land with soil, four miles north of Hilo.

The Planning Commission decided none of that was their business.

But some of the commissioners were worried about traffic plans, which called for students coming from the Puna District to drive past the area of the school, go part way into Hilo, and then double-back on a side road.

Commissioner Jimmy Souza quoted a letter from state Transportation Director Kazu Hayashida which said, "The lack of (highway) improvements proposed for the initial campus is unacceptable."

Traffic consultant Julian Ng said students would be bused from Puna in the first phase of kindergarten through the eighth grade. He said it is too soon to study traffic effects of the high school.

Kamehameha planning consultant Frank Brandt said officials hope to have the first phase open with 200 students by August 2001.

Principal Barbara Robertson said the school now has 153 students at temporary quarters in the Keaukaha area of Hilo. The long-term plan calls for 2,300 students.

The main campus at Kapalama has 3,300 students, said Kamehameha President Michael Chun. A new campus opened last month at Pukalani, Maui, with about 150 students, he said.

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