Viewpoint: Community center facts clarified

The members of the Nahiku Community Association are grateful and humbled by the years of public, individual and government support from both the State of Hawaii and County of Maui.

In a June 15 Viewpoint regarding Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration and the Maui County Council Budget Committee, the Nahiku Community Center became the writer’s chosen example of Maui County’s “large expenditure” project.

I would like to clear up two of the nonfactual points that were made in the Viewpoint.

* The Viewpoint writer claims a property title dispute.

The March 12, 2012, article in The Maui News stated: “Currently, the state owns the property, although Kaho’okele said it was formerly owned by her family and the land was supposed to be returned to her family after the school closed.”

Key here is that the state owns the property and was supposed to be returned to the family after its closure in 1958 (estimated). So that it is clear, this comment was to give the origin of the property’s ownership from the time it was transferred over in the late 1800s for public instruction to the Territory of Hawaii by my great-grandfather. I did not imply or say I owned this property, nor did I claim a title dispute on this property.

Through the years, the families leased the old school building as a gathering place and shelter through state-issued permits for usage of the premises up until December 2005 when the school burned down. This is a fact.

* Regarding Hawaii Revised Statute Chapter 343 (Environmental Assessment): According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Land Division, June 22, 2007, “This action before the Board is merely a transfer of management jurisdiction and does not constitute a use of State lands or funds, and therefore, this action is exempt from the provisions of Chapter 343, HRS, relating to environmental impact statements. In as much as the Chapter 343 environmental requirements apply to Applicant’s use of the lands, the Applicant shall be responsible for compliance with Chapter 343, HRS, as amended.”

For clarification, transfer of management jurisdiction was done by Executive Order 4220 by then-Gov. Linda Lingle in March 2008 from the state to the county, upon which the county would then develop the property and provide a needed venue for the community. And, because it is a site where a structure once stood, the county is just replacing a building for a building, hence, an environmental assessment exemption.

Now, in 2013, we have gone through the due process of state legislation and working with the Arakawa’s administration and the Maui County Council to make this miracle become a reality for our community in the East Maui district to have a facility for community activities, reunions, public instruction, emergency response and gathering place – as all community centers in this county are intended.

The June 15 Viewpoint writer has been invited to the Nahiku Community Association meetings on numerous occasions, but has only attended meetings in October 2008, October 2009 and January 2010.

The Nahiku Community Association welcomes all comments, questions and suggestions. Please feel free to contact NCA via email at or by regular mail to P.O. Box 47, Puunene 96784.

* Dorothy Kamalu Kaho’okele is the president of the Nahiku Community Association.