So close. The crane was scheduled to be delivered to the Maryknoll Grade School campus on June 11. Foundation work was to begin on the site for our new gym.

But the groundbreaking has been postponed while the city reviews its previous approval of our permit to build the Maryknoll School Community Center. Ten neighbors who live across the street filed a petition to appeal that decision.

And so we wait. While we do, here’s what I’ve been thinking:

Maryknoll School exists for one purpose: to give the children entrusted to our care the best education we can possibly give them. Providing them a safe place to play and a home court to build school pride and a place to worship God as a united student body – that’s what this facility does for Maryknoll.

We’re not a “greedy developer” trying to build an enormous facility so we can make a huge profit on weddings and baby luaus. Crime and graffiti in the neighborhood are not going to dramatically increase simply because our kids attend a basketball game on a Friday night, which is one of the claims that have been made against the project. Unfortunately, there are those who think so and will tell this to anyone who will listen.

It breaks my heart that people who chose to live across the street from a school that’s been in the neighborhood for 80 years would try to stop us from serving our students, and are engaging us in this time-consuming and terribly expensive delay. Especially after we have been meeting with these same neighbors regularly over the last three years to address community concerns and have made sure that they have a direct line of communication to the school (through me).

But I’ve been working closely with our consultants and legal counsel who are guiding us through the process of working with the city. I have a great deal of faith in what they’re doing. We are all optimistic that at the end of this process is a favorable outcome for Maryknoll because we have a construction project that is an appropriate size for our school, that fully meets city requirements and is well within our rights to build.

Sadder, however, than the adversarial neighbors are members of our own Maryknoll School family who are inadvertently aiding their cause. These are the doubting Thomases who have said to us, either directly or indirectly, “I know you need my support to build this facility, but I won’t help you until I see the walls going up.” It breaks my heart that people who know and love us still cannot envision all that our small school can accomplish.

Be assured that there are 1,400 reasons — ages 4 to 18 — for this project to succeed. There are so many people — school administrators and staff members, paid professionals, board members and volunteers — working tirelessly to make this building happen for all those reasons and more.

We’re incredibly grateful for those who have taken the leap of faith alongside us and remain steadfast in their support. For the past, present and future students of Maryknoll School — I hope that we can count you among them.

”There is a Public Hearing on the reconsideration of the Conditional Use Permit to build the Maryknoll School Community Center on Friday, July 27, 2007, at 10:30 A.M. at the Mission Memorial Auditorium on 550 S. King Street.”

Everyone is invited to attend. We strongly encourage those in favor of the project to give testimony about the importance of this facility — especially to the children served by Maryknoll School.

If you wish to testify in person, please arrive before the start of the hearing to register. Please bring a written copy of your testimony to submit to the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP).

You do not have to attend the public hearing to submit testimony. Written testimony received by the Department of Planning and Permitting PRIOR to the hearing date will be considered in the evaluation of the request.

Address letters to:

”’Mr. Henry Eng, Department of Planning and Permitting, 650 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813”’

We would also appreciate receiving a copy for our files at Maryknoll School. You can send a copy of your testimony to me at Maryknoll School, 1526 Alexander Street, Honolulu 96822. You can also contact me at 952-7315 or mailto:camille.michel@maryknollschool.org with any questions.

Mahalo for your support.

”’Camille Domaloan Michel is the Editor, eKnoller, a publication of Maryknoll Schools, and a graduate of Maryknoll Schools. Reach her at mailto:knoller@maryknollschool.org”’

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