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County signs lease for land in West Maui

The Maui News – Maui County has inked a $1-a-year lease for 65 years with the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. for 20 acres adjacent to the Lahaina Civic Center, Mayor Alan Arakawa announced Tuesday.

A portion of the site already is used for overflow parking for civic center events, the mayor told a council committee in early March. The lease could enable the county to expand police and fire stations near the civic center, and the Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments could develop baseyards and maintenance facilities, he said.

“This is a great deal not just because of the price of the lease, but because the county can now use the land for so many important things for the West Maui community,” said Arakawa.

Exactly how the land will be used still needs to be formulated and approved by the council, the mayor said in March. Besides continuing to use the property for overflow parking, there were no set plans for expanding the other county services as yet.

Parks Director Ka’ala Buenconsejo called the lease “vital” to handle multiple events at the civic center, “the community hub for West Maui.”

“We host baby luau, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and craft fairs along with many special events like the Maui Invitational, tournaments and numerous concerts,” Buenconsejo said. “We also provide overflow parking for the PGA tournament (SBS Tournament of Champions). So it was crucial that we obtained this lease.”

The county spent a year negotiating the lease with the state agency before it was

approved by its board in October, the county announcement said. The County Council unanimously approved the deal earlier this month.

The lease consists of two parcels, one 14.6 acres and the other 5.5 acres along the northeast end of the civic center. The land is part of the state’s Villages of Leiali’i affordable housing project, but the site was not included in an environmental impact statement for expansion of the housing project, an official with the project said at the council meeting.

Not all of the site is usable with gulches and rocks, Arakawa told the council committee last month. Still, given the price, he said it was worth the county entering into an agreement, adding that the county is looking to work with the state and to assist with the road entry for the housing project.