Long-stalled Haiku fire station back on the table

Four sites eyed; study shows prices up; original plan still best spot

Plans for a fire station in Haiku are back on the table after stalling for more than a decade. Maui County is mulling four potential sites near areas with the highest concentration of calls. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

After stalling for more than a decade, plans for a fire station in Haiku are back on the table, though with a potentially higher price tag than when it was first proposed.

Four sites are being considered within a 5-mile radius of Haiku’s highest concentration of calls for service: Site A near Hana Highway and Nahele Road, Site B near Hana Highway and East Kuiaha Road, Site C on East Kuiaha Road and Site D at North/South Holokai Road.

Site B, the originally proposed site that stalled after community concerns, remains the most feasible site for a future fire station, according to a recently completed study commissioned by the county.

Many Haiku calls for service are outside a 5-mile radius for Paia and Makawao fire stations, the next closest public safety infrastructure. Insurance coverage within a 5-mile radius of a fire station tends to come with lower premiums, study consultants said.

Those behind the study, which included planning consultant Munekiyo Hiraga, architecture firm AHL and civil engineering firm AECOM, outlined the potential sites on Wednesday night at a Haiku Community Association meeting.

A map shows the four proposed sites for the Haiku fire station — Site A near Hana Highway and Nahele Road, Site B near Hana Highway and East Kuiaha Road, Site C on East Kuiaha Road and Site D at North/South Holokai Road. — MUNEKIYO HIRAGA rendering

Plans for a fire station are years in the making. In 2007, the county purchased the Hana Highway and East Kuiaha Road parcel with the intent of building a fire station on the approximately 6-acre site. To move ahead, requirements such as a draft environmental assessment in 2011 and a Maui Island Plan designation change in 2012 were completed. Other investments included construction plans and permits.

However, the fire station stalled after Haiku community members voiced concerns about the location and some of the project features, including wind turbines, a helipad, and a storage structure, according to Kauanoe Batangan, Munekiyo Hiraga senior associate.

“Just because the project was put on hold didn’t mean the need for a fire station in Haiku went away,” he said during the meeting. “Last year and this year we’ve been working to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate potential alternative sites for a fire station and assess what kind of amendments would need to be made to bring it up to Maui County Code.”

He said over the last decade, the regulatory and construction environments have changed.

Even if the county moves forward with Site B, which could be pared down and amended to address the community’s concerns, the cost has already increased from about $11 million in the mid-2000s to about $17.5 million due to rising construction prices and other changes, according to Batangan.

Site B would require a few years to complete if selected, consultants said. If other sites are chosen, it would take even longer.

The Haiku Community Association has suggested sites A and D in the past.

Consultants found that the general location of sites A, B and C “provide the Department of Fire and Public Safety the best opportunity to carry out its mission to protect and preserve life, environment and property” since they are closest to the Haiku community’s incident locations and growth boundaries.

It added that sites A, C and D present similar constraints and do not present significant advantages that would outweigh the existing investments made at Site B.

All sites will require environmental review as well as land-use amendments. Site B will require the least amount of land use and regulatory permits, since it will not require a Maui Island Plan amendment. Site A will require the most land use and regulatory permits since it is the only property subject to special management area use permit review requirements.

The study said drainage improvements will need to be included on all four properties.

Batangan said consultants do not select a final site or determine funding for the station.

“That is with the council and the administration,” he said. “If you don’t agree, great. If you do agree, great. Let elected officials know. We are not the ones who have the power to make the final call.”

Council Member Mike Molina, whose residency seat includes the Haiku area, said Thursday that he believes the Haiku community can reach agreement on a site, especially considering the infrastructure is vital to public health and safety.

“The community has been waiting for a long time,” said Molina, who advocated for the study and helped secure funding in the council’s last budget. “I’m hopeful we can move forward with this project soon because it’s certainly an important need.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.


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