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New priorities for a new council term

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

As we embark on a new council term, I am excited and honored to serve the people of Maui County once again. Here in my third term, I continue to work with my fellow council members toward solutions that prioritize safety and health for our community as our economy takes steps to reopen.

I look forward to a productive term as chair of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. This committee has oversight of the Department of Public Works, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Management’s Wastewater Reclamation and Solid Waste Divisions.

The Department of Transportation’s priorities include relocating the Central Maui Transit Hub from the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center to Vevau Street, also in Kahului. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

I also look forward to expansion of the department’s fleet of low-emission and energy-efficient buses and other vehicles. Chairing the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board, composed of both state and county officials, gives me another opportunity to address transportation matters.

As the county’s inventory of real property increases — with the recent opening of the Kahului Service Center, the acquisition of the Hawaiian Telcom property in Wailuku and the possible purchase of the Maui News property — the council will work with the Department of Public Works to ensure our taxpayers’ investments in physical infrastructure are well maintained for years to come. In doing so, we need to increase the county’s facility-management capacity, providing potential restructuring to help the department better maintain and increase the longevity of our county-owned properties.

The committee hopes to help the Department of Public Works update the building and subdivision codes, with an emphasis on complete streets policies and stormwater oversight.

As the Department of Environmental Management continues to seek more effective ways to manage solid waste, the committee will review requirements needed to expand the Central Maui Landfill and explore new and innovative options to create renewable energy from waste.

Among other priority items, my committee is also looking at:

• Parking near the Kalana O Maui campus in Wailuku Town.

• Alternative options for funding crucial capital improvements and infrastructure projects, such as the use of community facilities districts.

• The need to prioritize infrastructure projects that directly aid the development of affordable housing units.

As the council member holding the Upcountry Maui residency area seat, I focus on agriculture as a critical component of our community. I am committed to the viability and sustainability of our hardworking farmers and ranchers.

The growing axis deer population has created devastating loss of crops, property damage and financial hardship. I continue to work with local, state and federal partners, as well as farmers, ranchers, landowners and other residents, to come up with effective solutions to this problem.

As part of this process, I held our first virtual community meeting of the year on Wednesday to address this issue, as we continue to collaborate and share updates with the public.

At 9 a.m. on Monday, my committee will receive updates from the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Housing and Human Concerns to discuss possible responses to the ongoing feral animal issues challenging the Kula Agricultural Park and many other agricultural areas.

I encourage community members to join us and share their knowledge and solutions to this ongoing issue via oral or written testimony. For more information on how to testify, please visit mauicounty.us/testify.

* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chair of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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