About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ka'u News Briefs July 25, 2011

`Aina Koa Pono says its refinery and biofuel farm between Na`alehu and Pahala will impact the local lifestyle in the least intrusive manner. Photo by Julia Neal

As Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources,
William Aila will oversee partnerships with private
entities to generate income for the state agency.
        STATE LAND ALONG THE COAST and other park-like areas could be targeted for private - government partnerships under the new Act 55, recently passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Sophie Cocke, of the online news organization Civil Beat, wrote that the new “law creates the Public Land Development Corporation, which will act as the development arm of the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Board members have recently been appointed, and a range of possible projects, such as renovating state park facilities and constructing boat slips, are on the radar.”
       “The law’s supporters say profits generated by such improvements could provide a long-awaited salve to DLNR’s budget woes and aid the department in better maintaining neglected public lands. The public-private partnerships are also part of a broader national trend, in which states, struggling with decaying infrastructure and restricted budgets, are turning to the private sector for help. But the new corporation, which spearheads project financing through a mix of revenue bonds and private capital, has raised some alarm,” reports Civil Beat.
        Donna Wong, executive director of Hawai`i’s Thousand Friends, a watchdog organization for land use decisions, told Civil Beat: “I’ve been told over and over it’s all about money. We’ve joined other states that are selling their stadiums, fairgrounds and public parks because they need money. It’s a trend to sell it for quick cash. But once it’s gone to private hands, you don’t get it back and are beholden to what the [private companies] want to charge and their rules.”
Guy Kaulukukui says income is needed for DLNR to
protect watersheds.
       According to Civil Beat, however, supporters say its intent is not to open the floodgates to unrestricted development. “Without equivocating, we’re not going to take a state park and put a hotel on it,” said Guy Kaulukukui, a Volcano resident and deputy director at DLNR. He also told Civil Beat that he believed there were legitimate concerns about the powers of the corporation, and that the board will need to constrain its own behavior. Civil Beat reports that board members for the Public Land Development Corporation have been appointed, and they include Big Island native Duane Kurisu, a partner in the real estate investment firm Kurisu & Fergus, and former state senator Bobby Bunda. Also on board are Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism Director Richard Lim and Budget and Finance Director Kalbert Young. DLNR will be represented by either DLNR chief William Aila, Jr. or Kaulukukui. According to Civil Beat, “funding for DLNR’s capital improvement program has declined 55 percent from $29 million in 2002 to $13 million this year. The lack of funding for upgrading essential infrastructure and protecting natural resources poses a public threat, Kaulukukui told Civil Beat. Revenue generated from the Public Land Development Corporation could compensate for the losses, he said.
       Kaulukukui told Civil Beat that Hawai`i’s endangered watersheds, which provide all of the state’s drinking water, are being compromised by plants and hoofed livestock which compromise the ability of soil to absorb water. “With revenue generated by the corporation, DLNR officials hope to increase the budget for watershed protection tenfold,” the Civil Beat story reports. “We have to address this now, and we have to pay for it now,” Kaulukukui told Civil Beat, also saying that the alternative to harnessing drinking water was desalinating seawater, which would quadruple the cost.

      THE PUBLIC HEARING on the proposed `Aina Koa Pono biofuel refinery between Wood Valley and Pahala and the proposed biofuel farm on thousands of acres of pasture between Pahala and Na`alehu goes to public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at 9 a.m. \at the State Building in Hilo and at 4 p.m. at the West Hawai`i Civic Center.
         Here are more questions and answers provided by `Aina Koa Pono:
         Will any of the energy produced be used or available in Ka`u?
 Yes, says `Aina Koa Pono.

         What impact will the project have on Ka`u’s rural lifestyle?
 AKP says it wants “ to enrich Ka`u, be a good neighbor and impact the local community in the least intrusive manner so as to not interrupt or change its lifestyle.”
         What community benefits is AKP willing to commit to communities in Ka`u? How will the project’s economic benefits be distributed?
 AKP says it is “deeply committed to community giving in Ka`u. Although it is premature at this point in the project to identify specifics, AKP is committed to giving back to the community and is open to receiving community input for future consideration,” AKP states. 
Brittany Smart
       How does the project create jobs for people in the community? 
AKP says it projects that approximately 150 to 200 permanent jobs will be created by this project.

       How many of the construction and operations jobs will be filled by residents of Ka`u and Hawai`i Island?
 AKP says, “we hope to fill as many of the jobs available by local hires. It does not make sense to bring in outside personnel unless the capability is not available locally.”


REDISTRICTING OF HAWAI‘I COUNTY is the topic at a District 6 Matters meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center. County Council member Brittany Smart and attorney Michael Udovic, from the office of Corporation Counsel, will be on hand to answer questions.