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Wednesday, March 15, 2000

State of Hawaii

Governor, city
wrangle over replacing
Ala Wai Golf Course
with Luana Hills

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Gov. Ben Cayetano has rejected the city's proposal to turn Maunawili's Luana Hills Country Club into a public course to compensate for converting the Ala Wai Golf Course into Honolulu's "Central Park."

Kathleen Racuya-Markrich, spokeswoman for the governor, said yesterday that the top choice for a replacement course remains Sand Island.

"There are a couple of good reasons for Sand Island as a replacement golf course for the Ala Wai," Racuya-Markrich said.

"It's in urban Honolulu and it's flat (while) Luana Hills is not a walking golf course so it's not a feasible site," she said.

Mayor Jeremy Harris said the idea came out of one of the city's vision teams. The Luana Hills course is losing money and its owners want to sell it for between $15 million and $20 million, about one-fifth of the development price.

Besides a golf course, the sale would include some 800-plus acres of Windward wilderness areas that could be used for hiking trails, campgrounds and other ecotourism uses, the mayor said.

But the city itself does not have the money to buy the property, Managing Director Ben Lee said.

Windward Council members Steve Holmes and John Henry Felix, as well as Chairman Jon Yoshimura, also said they backed public purchase of the property -- by either the city or the state -- on the grounds that it would be not just a golf course but would have broader recreational uses.

The Harris administration has applied for a public facilities map symbol for the project.

Councilwoman Donna Mercado Kim said she was told the mayor wanted the city to purchase the site, an idea she thinks unwise.

The Ala Wai course, the most popular in the state, is under the control of the city by executive order, but Cayetano wants to amend the order to allow the redevelopment.

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