Thursday, October 18, 2001

University of Hawaii

Dobelle’s plan dishes
$109 million to Big Island

The UH president wants 3,000
dorm rooms built in Hilo

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> The Big Island's share of proposed University of Hawaii construction spending would be $109 million, UH President Evan Dobelle told the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

Dobelle asked chamber members to help him get the money when the Legislature meets in special session next week.

"Make a personal call to your legislator. Let them know how important this is to business," he said.

Dobelle's statewide spending plan includes $400 million from bond money, $150 million from state tobacco funds and $150 million in private funds.

The lion's share of the $109 million Big Island portion would be spent in Hilo on a 6,000-seat multipurpose center, a new science center, student service center expansion and a backlog of repairs.

With multiplier effects factored in, the Big Island spending would create 2,900 jobs, $224 million in business sales and $16.3 million in state and local taxes, he said.

But the key to expansion of UH-Hilo is more dormitory rooms, he said, and none of the requested money would go for that. Instead, Dobelle's chief of staff, Walter Kirimitsu, has been instructed to look for private enterprise partners who would build dorms and rent to students.

Of 10,000 new dorm rooms envisioned statewide, Dobelle would like to see 3,000 in Hilo.

But only 2,000 more students -- for a total of 5,000 -- are planned for Hilo by 2007.

Does that mean more than a total of 5,000 is possible? "I'll raise it to as high a level as we can go," he answered.

"Hilo needs to be built out in every way," he said. The alternative, in a business sense, is losing the "market" of students to other states, he said.

University of Hawaii

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