BY AARON STENE – I’m growing weary of the National Park Service’s repeated attempts to stop development in North Kona. They’ve held up three different projects that I’m aware of over the past 14 years. The NPS has intervened in the Kaloko Makai, Kaloko Industrial Park expansion (phases III and IV) and the second phase of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening.
The latter project was slated to start in 2011, but the National Park Service intervened and requested a Section 106 consultation. This opened the door for other Native Hawaiian Organizations to intervene. The net result of these delays is approximately 100 construction workers are on the bench and a much-needed highway widening is stalled.
The National Park Service also intervened in TSA Corporation’s petition to reclassify 102 acres of land for the Kaloko Light Industrial Park expansion. They did a case study titled “Using State Laws And Regulations To Protect Parks From Adjacent Development”, which detailed their actions in this matter.
The TSA Corporation wasn’t able to start construction until mid 2007 due to the National Park’s intervention. However, the overall economy was sliding into the Great Recession at that time. These lots remain unsold
to this day. The TSA Corporation never recouped their 43 million dollar investment as a result.
History is about to repeat itself on a more devastating scale if the Commission on Water Resource Management approves the NPS’s petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer as a water management area. The Department of Water Supply won’t be issuing new water meters until they can determine how much existing usage there is. In addition, all new requests for water will have to go through a quasi-judicial contested case hearing. This isn’t a quick process, as various experts will be presenting contradictory information during these proceedings.
The National Park Service actions will undoubtedly affect future economic growth.
Aaron Stene is a resident of Hawaii Island.