Legislature 2002

Senators punt on Honokohau
Boat Harbor project

3 committees agree to wait till they
can hear from area residents

Associated Press

Three Senate committees have killed an administration-backed measure that would have authorized leasing submerged state lands to open the way for privatization of Honokohau Boat Harbor on the Big Island.

The heads of the Water, Transportation and Economic Development committees agreed yesterday they would not act because they had not heard from the Kailua-Kona community and harbor users on the issue.

"We feel at this time we should defer action and hopefully try to see if we can address this issue next year and wait to hear from the greater community of Kailua-Kona and the boating community of West Hawaii in regards to the privatization," said Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, N. Hilo-Hamakua-S. Kohala), chairwoman of the Water, Land, Energy and Environment Committee.

The committee also wants to hear from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources about how it plans to privatize the harbor, she said.

Gov. Ben Cayetano had no immediate comment.

Sen. J. Kalani English (D, Wailuku-Kahului-Upcountry) said not authorizing the submerged lands lease "in no way prevents Honokohau (Marina) Partners from moving ahead.

"They can lease nonsubmerged lands, fast lands, without this resolution ... so why not do that, make a new harbor and have a public harbor. That's an option," English said.

Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Kailua-Waimanalo) called the explanations for killing the resolution "feeble."

"Hawaii has been accused of being a state that is unfriendly to economic development," he said. "The state government has not and cannot adequately develop the maritime industry nor, because of the competition for existing resources, even provide for what we have.

"While we're in the economic doldrums, here comes an investor who is willing to develop our maritime resources," Hemmings said, but "we slap him down."

Chris Armstrong, vice president of Honokohau Marina Partners LLC, which is proposing to spend $100 million over 10 years for expansion and improvement of the harbor, said he is disappointed the measure that won unanimous House approval died in the Senate.

"We'll take a look at what our options are. As one of the senators said, there's absolutely no written opposition from Honokohau," he said. "I'm a charter boat captain over there as well, and I'm in the harbor ... and people there are always asking me when are we going to start."

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