WAILUKU - With assurances from Mayor Alan Arakawa that the community and the council will be involved with its development, a council committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the purchase of 100 acres in Waikapu for a county consolidated baseyard project.
The Budget and Finance Committee recommended that the fiscal 2013 budget be amended to include $2.71 million for the acquisition of the property on the south side of Waiko Road and beneath the future Waiale Road extension, which is also makai of Honoapiilani Highway. The land owned by Waiale 905 Partners LLC is currently set to be purchased through general obligation bonds.
At the meeting, members of the Waikapu Community Association and Waikapu Gardens Homeowner Association both said they didn't want the baseyard, citing traffic, noise and concern about losing their small community feel.
"These plans will make the intersection (Waiko and Waiale) a very busy traffic corridor," said Glenn Adolpho, a board member of the Waikapu Community Association.
Adolpho said that with the county also trying to purchase 220 acres in Waikapu for a regional sports complex next to the proposed baseyard it will also impact Waikapu as the "last traditional small town in Central Maui."
Waikapu Gardens Homeowner Association Chairman Frank Fiorentino echoed Adolpho's sentiments and also said that the residents were waiting for the county administration to give them more information on the purchase and plans since Arakawa last met with them March 12.
Council Member Riki Hokama was the only council member to vote against the purchase, as he said he was showing his support of the Waikapu community.
Hokama said the concept of the baseyard is good but he is from a small community on Lanai so he understands the people's concerns.
He also found it "troublesome" that the Waikapu community did not hear back from the county administration after the March meeting.
Several council members also told Arakawa that they wanted to be sure that they and the community will be kept in the loop and involved in the project. Arakawa said that he needed to visit with the council each time he asked for money for the project as well as other approvals.
Several union leaders expressed their support for the project, citing that it will create jobs and saying purchasing the land would be a proactive move by the county.
Bruce U'u, apprenticeship coordinator for the Hawaii Carpenters Union, said that he sympathized with the Waikapu residents.
U'u said that he, too, living in Paia, had to make exceptions for development around his neighborhood.
"No matter where you go, you going offend people," he said.
He added that it would be wise for the county to buy land for its functions instead of renting.
"You not going get 'em any cheaper than you going get now," he said of the purchase.
Arakawa told council members that the need for a new consolidated baseyard is not an option but a necessity and it is important to the county's future, as some current baseyards are in residential areas and cannot be expanded.
County officials said the various baseyards for water, wastewater, solid waste and other services would be consolidated in the area. It could be a place for firefighter training and fire administrative offices as well as used by police, officials said.
In response to testifiers and council members' concerns, Arakawa said that the administration did look at many other sites to construct a baseyard but nothing worked out.
"There (have) been exhausted looks and reasons why the other sites have not been palatable," Arakawa said.
He added that he could not share a master plan with communities yet because the purchase of the 100 acres has not gone through. He added that the master plan will include the 100 acres and the areas around it, which includes the 220 acres in Waikapu that the county is working on acquiring from Alexander & Baldwin for a regional park.
Council members discussed the idea that perhaps the baseyard could instead be placed in the area of the 220 acres currently owned by A&B, as that property borders Kuihelani Highway and is farther
away from Waikapu residences. And the park area could be located in the 100-acre parcel instead.
Arakawa said he would be willing to work with the council and the community on those ideas.
Budget Director Sandy Baz said after the meeting that $5 million in county open-space funds are in the fiscal 2013 budget to purchase the 220 acres. The county is currently in negotiations with A&B on the purchase.
Baz said that the county is looking to finalize the purchases for the two parcels in Waikapu by the end of the calendar year.
The $2.71 million appropriation for the 100-acre parcel includes $2.56 million for the land and $150,000 for the area master plan, as well as other fees.
The resolution to authorize Arakawa to enter into negotiations for the 100-acre parcel along with the two bills - one to amend the budget and the other to give approval for the $2.71 million in general obligation bonds - will be heard at a County Council meeting as early as July 24.
The resolution has to pass only one reading. The bills need two readings.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.