Aloha and mahalo as county conducts a changing of guard

Our County

As we approach the end of the year, I’d like to welcome Mayor-elect Mike Victorino and his team as they get ready to take the reins as the new administrative leaders of Maui County.

I would also like to welcome the new County Council, some them returning members, some of them brand new and some of them old council members elected to serve once more.

Both the council and the administration must work together if they are to accomplish good things for our community. I know my administration and the council had some disagreements in the past but there were never any drastic changes to our proposed budgets. I would say the council approved at least 90 percent of our proposed budgets every fiscal year.

This cooperation helped the administration complete many projects over the years, but some of those projects remain unfinished or in the planning stages:

• The Maui County Consolidated Baseyard. This project consists of some 100 acres in Waikapu and would put all of the county baseyards in one spot – police, fire, water, public works and environmental management – so we can pool our resources and repair of all our vehicles, store equipment and heavy machinery and deal with other baseyard matters. This would also help the county eliminate duplication of functions and run more efficiently. A master plan for this project has been completed.

• The Central Maui Regional Park. This would consist of some 200 acres right next to the Consolidated Baseyard in Waikapu and would service the growing population of families in this area. There were some early discussions in the community about what to do with this area, perhaps creating a stadium for baseball tournaments that would attract youth sports teams worldwide. The options are many.

• War Memorial Gymnasium and Pool refit. Our beloved War Memorial Gymnasium has served us well over the years but there are many things in the gym that do not work anymore, from water, to electrical to the shuttered windows that do not open or close. A master plan was done to show some options about what it could be one day, perhaps a larger civic center that could hold more events and high school tournaments as well as hula halau competitions. We even considered having a dormitory for visiting teams from Molokai and Lanai. These plans are worth looking at again at some point.

• Baldwin Park Master Plan. The county owns a little less than 30 acres of beachfront property that will finally connect Baldwin Park and Lower Paia Park, aka Baby Park, and provide more beach access to the public. A community advisory group followed by community meetings will begin meeting next year to discuss options for the park. For more information, contact parks planner David Yamashita at 270-6508 or email david.yamashita@mauicounty.gov.

• Continued Kula Ag Park expansion. Gov. David Ige earlier this month released $5 million in general obligation bond funds, which will be used to expand the Kula Ag Park by acquiring 262 acres of adjacent land. As much as possible we must continue to expand the park in order to help promote the development of diversified agriculture.

• Building the first “Inclusive Park” in the state. These are parks that are designed to be a safe place for all children, with or without disabilities. So far there are none in Hawaii, and should Maui County build one we would have the first. There are some very early discussions within the parks department about this project, which I hope come to fruition one day.

• Wells Park and Wailuku Civic Complex projects. In Wailuku we have completed the planning and are moving into the construction phase for these two bookend projects, Wells Park and the Wailuku Civic Complex. Together these projects take on long overdue maintenance and capacity issues while making investments in parking, public open space and community facilities.

• Affordable housing initiatives. The county is now able to issue “Workforce Housing Certificates” to projects that involve affordable and/or workforce housing. These certificates prioritize the permits for these projects so they are processed faster, saving these projects time and money.

Mahalo for helping to make Maui County the best community in the world.

Aloha and God bless.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, discusses county issues and activities of county government. With Arakawa leaving office Jan. 2, this will be his last column.

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