Friday, May 4, 2001

New Kapolei
library destined to
remain closed

The Kapolei branch, when
finished in December, will lack
both books and staff

By Leila Fujimori
and Gregg K. Kakesako

The new Kapolei Public Library will be completed in December, but it may sit idle without books or staffing unless Gov. Ben Cayetano intercedes.

Rep. Mark Moses, R, Kunia-Makakilo-Ewa-Waipahu), said "there just wasn't enough money this year. It was a hard year and a lot of districts got nothing."

Moses said it was a choice of finding money for salaries and books or moving to the next phase in building Kapolei High School.

"I just feel fortunate in getting money for the high school."

Moses said he doesn't believe all is lost since Cayetano has the power to shift money around in the state budget like the money set aside for Aiea Library which was never requested.

"He has done just that with other libraries," Moses said.

State Librarian Virginia Lowell had predicted that the Legislature might fund the first phase of building the library -- located across the Kapolei Regional Park -- but that there would not be enough money for staffing or books or to complete the next construction phases.

This year, the Legislature denied the state Board of Education and the governor's recommendation to provide 24 staff positions and $1.8 million for salaries and books at the Kapolei facility.

An extra $12 million to complete the construction was also withheld -- $1 million for furniture and equipment and $11 million for Phase 2 construction of a distribution center, offices and other improvements.

Board members heard the report by John Penebaker, deputy state librarian, at last night's meeting.

"I wonder what Kapolei residents think?" Meyer Ueoka asked.

Marilyn Harris said: "I think most of them are under the belief they wouldn't fund the rest of (the library).

"They understand that it just wouldn't happen."

Ueoka asked yesterday whether grants from private sources could be obtained for the library.

Lowell responded that private foundations are usually not interested in funding a project where public funds could have been obtained.

She further explained that it would not be enough to fund the construction or operating budget.

"We have to have staffing to run the building not only for the next year, but the next 20 to 30 years," Lowell said. "If that guarantee is not there, I'm really concerned about getting grant money."

Two groups of Friends of the Kapolei Library had also been trying to solicit donations for books to supply the library.

"You don't build a quality community library if you're filling it with people's old books," Lowell said.

She added that it is the state budget's responsibility to supply the library with books and that it could not depend on arbitrary gifts and donations.

The Legislature, however, did fund a project that the school board did not request.

"The real bombshell was, we got $2.5 million for the Aiea Public Library," Penebaker said. "We did not ask for it, but it was put in."

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