Thursday, May 31, 2001

City prepares to
claim Waimea Valley

It says condemnation is a
precaution and OHA can still move

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Honolulu City Council members are proceeding with plans to condemn Waimea Valley despite recent interest in the property expressed by Office of Hawaiian Affairs members.

There was no discussion prior to the 9-0 Council vote yesterday to "lay on the table" a bill that gives the city administration the authority to begin acquisition proceedings for the 1,875-acre North Shore park.

Council members will take a final vote on June 20. The Council has already allocated $5.2 million to go toward purchase of the land and has given the property city park status on the island's Development Plan map.

"We have to stay focused on our process," said North Shore Councilwoman Rene Mansho, who has spearheaded the city's effort to acquire the property as chairwoman of the mayor's Waimea Falls Park Master Plan Advisory Committee.

Mansho said she has not received any formal proposals from OHA officials. "I guess for them it's just discussion at this point," she said.

If or when the OHA board comes to the city, the Council will be "very open to discussion," Mansho said. "I know OHA's intentions are to help the Hawaiian community, so I know that they can be a great partner with the city."

Earlier this month, five Council members introduced a resolution urging the administration to defer acquisition of Waimea Valley and yield to any interest OHA might have. The resolution has yet to be heard by the Council Parks Committee.

Parks Chairman Gary Okino said he believes there is support on the Council for an OHA purchase and that the continuing move toward condemnation is a precautionary move.

Mansho said her main interest is not in having the city obtain the property, but in ensuring the park is preserved. She said one scenario might have the city purchase the parcel and have OHA operate it, which would cost about $400,000 annually.

On Tuesday, OHA's Planning and Land committees voted to put the Waimea Park purchase before the board.

Property owner Christian Wolffer put the property on the market in August for $25 million. The Waimea Falls Adventure Park section of the property was placed under bankruptcy protection in April.

E-mail to City Desk

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