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Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Kim calls for redesign
of Hawaii County offices

By Rod Thompson

HILO -- The design of new Hawaii County offices at the former J.C. Penney building has so little user-friendliness that the public would be forced to wait outdoors in the wind and rain while waiting to do county business, Mayor Harry Kim says.

Kim yesterday asked the Hawaii County Council to consider abandoning the current design and creating a new one. The changes would add another $1 million to the present $14.8 million cost.

Kim said the design, initiated under former Mayor Stephen Yamashiro, is so bad that he tried to sell the building to the state Judiciary, which once wanted to buy it.

But the Judiciary has decided on the nearly vacant Kaikoo Mall, attached to the Penney building, as its choice for expansion.

Kim's proposal is to put only those agencies into the space which offer direct service to the public, so the public would have a central location to get building permits, register vehicles and conduct other business.

Fire Department administration offices, which had been planned for the space, would not be placed there because they provide no direct service.

Kim's plan takes a narrow interior public corridor and makes it wider. It also adds a lobby

. Each agency would have a conference room next to a public-service window, so the public could meet officials without going into a "maze" of offices, Kim said.

Security would be greater because each agency would be separated from others. The existing plan calls for one huge open space, he said.

Two other changes are conversion of a former Firestone Tire showroom to a public meeting area, and exclusion of a small Japanese immigrant museum, which had been promised space in the building.

Council reaction was mixed. Councilman Gary Safarik said, "I'm a little skeptical about this and the money we're going to have to spend."

Councilwoman Nancy Pisicchio said centralization of services would be good.

Aware that the Judiciary's closure of the Kaikoo Mall would also close several small restaurants where council members often eat, some also called for a cafeteria in the new plan.

The Council will consider the proposal more later.

E-mail to City Desk

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