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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

Kamehameha Schools has purchased the 665-acre Kahuku Ranch, makai of Hwy 11 near Ocean View.
Photo from Kamehameha Schools
KAHUKU RANCH, the 665- acre parcel formerly owned by the Damon Estate, has been purchased by Kamehameha Schools. The historic ranch with its koa home, office, high producing cattle pastures, and ranch quarters is known for its very thick grasslands and its paniolo and Native Hawaiian history. It is adjacent to other Kamehameha Schools lands at Wai'ahukini. The land is on the makai side of Hwy 11, between South Point Road and Ocean View, makai of the Kahuku Unit of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
    A statement issued Jan. 4 from Kamehameha Schools says, the investment "consolidates ownership of area lands that include adjacent KS legacy lands and also provides for potential future agriculture or community education presence in the rural district along the southern tip of Hawai‘i island." The property
A village of seven homes at Kahuku Ranch,
recently acquired by Kamehameha Schools

provides "access to a large swath of KS’ Pākini ahupuaʻa. Additionally, this large property also has highway frontage and access to unique ma uka and ma kai cultural and natural landscapes."
    Jamee Miller, director of KS’ ‘Āina Ulu, which works with KS ʻāina tenants and partners on impactful outcomes that contribute to community resiliency, said the following: “Through responsible stewardship of ‘āina, we support vibrant, resilient communities where keiki learn and thrive. Through planning and collaboration with the community, there is an opportunity to link educational, economic and community resources while forging strong partner networks and relationships.” The ranch could also support agricultural and food systems activities such as securing a lessee to raise livestock or grow fruit trees, says the KS statement. "KS’ immediate focus is on properly securing and stewarding the ‘āina and facilities. While there are no set long-term plans, KS will be carefully assessing all options to create positive resilient community impact."
Punalu'u property managers are asking the public to beware of nene, the Hawaiian goose and state bird, which has taken to crossing the roads. Speed bumps and other improvements to protect the nene are planned at Punalu'u, according to property
managers and owner. A few of the nene have been killed in recent years on the Punalu'u roadway. Photo by Bob Martin

PUNALU'U MANAGERS URGE PROTECTION FOR NENE. "There are a lot of nene this winter at Punalu'u and we are very concerned about their safety," said Black Sand Beach, LLC Project Director Norman Quon who is working on the development plan for the 434-acre property below Hwy 11. He said the Punalu'u management team asks the public to drive slowly on the roads through Punalu'u, especially along the road bordering the golf course between Hwy 11 and SeaMountain condominiums.As many as ten nene have been seen recently on the property, said Quon. He vowed that the management team would work on signage and other nene safety protocol along the private road. "We are even considering perhaps 
building some of the stone walls higher along the golf course to help keep the nene off the road."
    Several nene have been killed along the road in recent years. O Ka'u Kakou President Wayne Kawachi said OKK is involved in setting up speed bumps to slow the traffic and will fill some gaps in the stone walls along the golf course where nene cross the road. He said OKK has reached out to Department of Land & Natural Resources wildlife biologist Raymond McGuire for guidance.

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The future of Punlu'u and the County of Hawai'i pavilions, which are leased from the owners
of Black Sand Beach, LLC, are up for discussion at a workshop on Jan. 15 about future development plans. 
Photo by Bob Martin
A FOURTH MEETING TO BE HELD ON THE FUTURE OF PUNALU'U will be a workshop on Saturday, Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the multipurpose room next to the Robert Herkes Gym adjacent to the Pahala School campus. Norman Quon, Project Director for Black Sand Beach, LLC's plan for the 432-acre oceanfront Punalu'u property, said the planning team wants more input from the community before turning in its proposal to the County of Hawai'i. "We are hoping to turn in a plan during the first 
quarter of this year," he said.
    The property includes the beach park, which is rented to the county; golf course, abandoned tennis center and abandoned commercial buildings, along with undeveloped resort, commercial and residential lands.
    Quon said he will help lead the workshop, along with Black Sand Beach, LLC's principal owner Eva Liu, Planning Consultant Daryn Arai and Project Assistant Jade Cardellos. "It's the next step, to take it to another level, to really get the community and involve the community specifically in the project," said Quon. He said the plans for development have not changed since the three community meetings held in December.

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HIGH INFECTION RATES OF COVID ON THIS ISLAND leading to staffing issues have prompted closing of the Ka`u Drivers Licensing Office on Wednesday, Jan. 5, with the expectation that it will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
    The Hilo office will also be closed and is expected to reopen on Thursday. Additionally, Waimea will be canceling all road tests scheduled for tomorrow and will also be closed for lunch between 12-1 pm. The Hilo Vehicle Registration Office will remain open tomorrow, pending staff availability.
    A statement from County of Hawaiʻi says thanks to "the community for their understanding as we all continue to battle the effects of the coronavirus locally and globally. The County remains committed to providing quality and timely service to all residents and will promptly notify the public of any further changes to regular schedules or services."

A 3.7 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE SHOOK WAI'OHINU AND OCEAN VIEW at 8 p.m. Tuesday. It was located 6 miles north of Waiohinu and 8 miles from Ocean View.

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