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Thursday, January 25, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

budget axes
cancer park

The rest of the mayor's
$82.3 million supplemental
budget is largely untouched

City Council Briefs

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

A request to advance $750,000 for construction of a cancer survivors' park at Ala Moana Beach Park has been chopped from Mayor Jeremy Harris' supplemental budget.

But not much else has been touched in what is now an $82.3 million midterm request as it goes back to the Budget Committee.

While the City Council passed the supplemental budget yesterday by an 8-1 vote, some Council members think it is disingenuous for the administration to tout a tightened $299 million capital improvements budget in the spring only to come back with a nearly 25 percent increase before a new budget cycle begins.

"By putting in a $100 million supplemental budget in between is kind of blowing all that stuff out of the water," said Councilman Gary Okino. "I really think there are a lot of projects on there that should be put in with the regular budget, and I think we can address that in committee."

Councilman Andy Mirikitani, the only member to vote against the bill, said the annual budget process is demeaned by the supplemental request. "It's like having two or three budgets in one year," he said.

Councilman Steve Holmes, however, said he supports the supplemental request wholeheartedly.

Many of the projects listed are on strict timetables, such as the sewage improvements that are mandated by federal consent decree, he said. Other cases, such as a proposed $4 million allocation to buy 220 acres in Heeia Kea for a city park, represent "unique opportunities" for the city while interest rates are low, Holmes said.

Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said a planned $750,000 to develop a cancer survivors' park on as many as two acres at Ala Moana Regional Park has been deleted. Members of the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board said they wanted a chance to look into the proposal, Yoshimura said.

"This is one of those projects I think, if the community accepts it, can be dealt with in the upcoming budget," he said after the meeting.

Supplemental highlights

Here are some of the items in the supplemental budget:

Bullet $15.5 million for the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Disinfection Facility.

Bullet $10.7 million for street resurfacing.

Bullet $8.2 million for the second phase of the Central Oahu Regional Park.

Bullet $7.9 million for the Smith-Beretania Park.

Bullet $6 million for an elephant facility at Honolulu Zoo.

Bullet $5.9 million for waste-water projects at the Hart Street Pump Station and Sand Island.

Bullet $7.2 million for equipment purchases.

Bullet $5.2 million to buy Waimea Valley Park.

City Council Briefs


Bills would help police contend with protests

A package of bills now moving through the City Council would help police deal with civil disturbances.

The bills were introduced partly in anticipation of the Asian Development Bank conference to be held at the Hawai'i Convention Center in mid-May.

Local law enforcement officials are anticipating protests may be staged here, and want to avoid the violent confrontations that took place when the World Bank convened in Seattle several years ago.

Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa said the the proposed laws aren't designed to discourage or prevent peaceful, law-abiding demonstrations.

Among the proposals are ordinances that would:

Bullet Allow police to arrest anyone placing glass, nails, tacks, wire, cans or other objects on city streets and highways deliberately to cause injury.

Bullet Prohibit any person from possessing -- with intent to use -- any shell, cartridge, bomb, gun or other device capable of emitting liquid, gaseous or solid substances that may be injurious.

Hawaii Kai valley cemetery gets approval

The City Council has OK'd controversial plans for a cemetery on 69 acres in the back of Hawaii Kai's Kamilonui Valley.

KAMVAL LLC wants to put up to 44,000 cemetery plots, citing the need for such a facility in the East Honolulu region.

Farmers and nearby residents raised concerns about traffic and potential flooding. Council members said a cemetery was already allowed on the site.

Not all residents opposed the project. Some said they think a cemetery would fit in well as part of a planned community and ensure the back of the valley wouldn't be overrun by homes.

East Honolulu Councilman John Henry Felix, chief executive officer of the Borthwick Group and a top official in two other funeral service companies, was one of three Council members declaring potential conflicts before the vote.

Councilwoman Rene Mansho said she is chairwoman of the board at Hosoi Garden Mortuary.

Councilman Romy Cachola disclosed that a group of investors seeking to operate the proposed cemetery "sought my advice and participation." Cachola said he advised the group to "consider indemnifying the county and effected property owners from future potential liability."

TheBus policy likely to mean higher fares

A City Council resolution approved yesterday establishes a bus-fare structure tied to operational costs.

The new policy may signal an increase in fares in the near future.

The policy calls for a fare box recovery rate of at least 27 percent but no more than 33 percent of operations, with the rest coming from subsidies.

TheBus officials, who want both a policy in place and a fare increase, have testified that fares are now bringing in about 27 percent of costs but warned that could dip to less than 25 percent next year because of rising fuel costs and new programs started by Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Under the policy, fares would likely be evaluated annually. Adults now pay $1 and students 50 cents. Monthly adult passes are $25. The last increases were in 1995.

Council OKs acreage in Waimea Valley for park

The City Council has approved a resolution to designate 1,875 acres in Waimea Valley, including Waimea Valley Park, as park land.

It is the first step toward city acquisition of the acreage from its owner, which has had it on the market as a private residence for $25 million.

City officials say the property has been assessed at $5.1 million for tax purposes. The Council, in a separate action, gave preliminary approval to a supplemental budget request for the current fiscal year that includes $5.2 million for purchase of the park.

Besides the adventure park that most visitors are familiar with, the property also includes a botanical garden that promotes the preservation of endangered Hawaiian and Pacific plants.

Some Council members have questioned who will maintain the park. But park manager Ray Greene said yesterday that a group of current employees and a second organization have expressed interest in operating the facility as a nonprofit endeavor.

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk

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