Council gives initial backing to design funds

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council gave its initial approval Friday to spend $1.5 million on the design of a new building on the site of the Old Wailuku Post Office on the corner of Wells and High streets.

But the body made it clear in the bill that its decision to recommend the design funds did not mean it was approving the actions of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration to demolish the building without proper funding. Also, passage of the measure would not affect the council’s investigation into the matter.

Along with giving initial approval for the funds, the council strengthened its stance on not condoning the administration’s actions by approving a resolution.

It emphasized that the council’s actions would not ratify the administration’s prior action to demolish the former post office.

The council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is investigating the administration’s use of funds designated for rehabilitation of the post office building that were instead used for the building’s demolition earlier this year.

Arakawa and his administration have apologized for what they called a “mistake” and noted that the administration should have come back to the council to amend the budget request. The administration said the demolition was no secret and was discussed publicly in council meetings and with councilors themselves.

Nevertheless, with the council’s action Friday, “we are very happy,” said county spokesman Rod Antone. “The council members have always said that they agree with this project that we are doing, and this just reinforces that fact.”

The bill advances to a second and final reading by the council before it goes to the mayor for final action.