DOE seeking OK for acquisition of Pu‘u Kukui land

The state Department of Education is asking the Board of Land and Natural Resources to approve the acquisition of nearly 14.1 acres for the continued operation of Pu’u Kukui Elementary School in Wailuku.

The school cost $37.1 million to build, and officially opened for 550 students in kindergarten through 5th grade in August. The school is located off Kehalani Mauka Parkway, below Wailuku Heights.

The land is owned by RCFC Development, a Delaware limited liability company, according to a submittal to the land board from public school officials.

The DOE submittal says that the landowner is dedicating the property to the state “gratis,” or without charge, and as part of an education contribution agreement for development of the Wailuku-Kahului Project District 3.

Attempts by The Maui News were unsuccessful to contact school officials for an explanation of why, eight months after the school’s opening, the DOE is seeking conveyance of the property from the landowner.

An exhibit attached to the DOE submittal shows the property’s assessed land value is $1.49 million.

Because the land conveyance is free, the action is exempt from a requirement to do an environmental impact statement as would otherwise be required under state law, Chapter 343, according to public school officials.

The submittal reports that, at no charge to the state, the private landowner:

* Provided survey maps and descriptions of the property according to state Department of Accounting and General Services standards.

* Obtained a title report for the property.

* Paid for and conducted an environmental site assessment, along with “sufficient soil sampling and analysis as required by the state Department of Health.”

The landowner updated the environmental site assessment as of Aug. 1.

The assessment, conducted by Bureau Veritas North America Inc., reviewed historic records, photographs, maps and interviews with people familiar with the property. Bureau Veritas reported that “no recognized environmental conditions were identified” on the property, DOE reported.

Bureau Veritas also studied surface soil on the property and found that the “site is suitable for unrestricted land use.” It recommends “no further investigation.”

In March 2011, a state Department of Health letter to Stanford Carr Development, regarding soil testing for the Kehalani development, said that the department supported the “no further action” determination for the development on former agricultural land.

Soil samples were tested for arsenic, dioxin and organochlorine pesticides, and test results showed no issues, according to Fenix Grange, supervisor for the Department of Health’s Site Discovery and Remediation Section.

* Brian Perry can be reached at