Final environmental assessment issued for proposed park
A final environmental assessment with a “finding of no significant impact” has been filed with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control for the 65-acre Central Maui Regional Park that will be built in an area bordered by the Maui Lani subdivision and Kuihelani Highway in Kahului.
If there are no legal challenges and calls for further study within 30 days, state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials said Monday that the state can proceed with the project.
Currently, construction is scheduled for late summer 2014. Completion of the proposed park is anticipated in 2015.
The proposed park already has $18.7 million allocated, which Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui said in March should be enough to complete the project. The county and state are working together on the project with the county to eventually handle park administration and maintenance.
The new park will consist of one high school baseball field, four softball fields, four youth baseball fields and four soccer fields, along with approximately 575 parking stalls, restrooms and concession areas.
A community center and cultural preserve will border the new park to the west with county housing, a new middle school and commercial areas to the south. Kuihelani Highway will border the park to the east. To the north, the park will be bordered by the Maui Lani residential area.
For now, the main exit and entrance to the planned park will be through an extension of Kamehameha Avenue, which has some residents and state agencies concerned about traffic. Of particular concern was a backup of traffic at the Kamehameha Avenue-Maui Lani Parkway intersection during peak morning and afternoon hours.
However, a study of peak travel times filed with the report did not show significant impact at the intersection by the proposed park because most of the organized activity at the park will happen during off-peak periods on weekdays and weekends.
In the long term, another entrance is planned by area landowner Alexander & Baldwin, which is in the process of developing its Wai’ale project. Access to the park will consist of a roadway off Kuihelani Highway.
“The Wailuku-Kahului area has high projected growth, and there is a need to incorporate new recreational spaces into development in the region,” according to an OEQC environmental notice published Sunday announcing the final environmental assessment. The proposed park would meet that need.
Government officials and residents have said that there are not enough athletic fields to sustain all of the sports activities on Maui.
The report also detailed archaeological findings mostly outside of the proposed park area. Still, the park site will be monitored for burial and culturally significant sites, the report said.
Previous archaeological studies around and in a portion of the proposed park have not turned up burials, the report said. An assessment done for another project examined a portion of the western part of the proposed park area with no surface or subsurface cultural remains found.
In another archaeological study, human remains were found south of – but not in – the proposed park area, the report said. It is believed that intact sand dunes, part of about 33 acres designated as a cultural reserve next to the planned park, are where burials would likely be located, the report said.
The proposed park site is populated by mainly non-native botanical species, but a mitigation plan for protecting the Blackburn’s sphinx moth’s habitat will be drafted by the DLNR. Although the site is not classified as a critical habitat, the endangered endemic moth has been seen in the area.
To minimize potential project impacts to seabirds during their breeding season, the report said that between Sept. 15 and Dec. 15 no nighttime work will be performed.
To view the full report, go to hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html/ and click on The Environmental Notice.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.