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County to Buy Popular Kona Surfing Beach

April 2, 2012, 6:04 PM HST
* Updated April 3, 3:25 PM
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The county is looking to purchase a small section of Kona shoreline that is home to one of the district’s most popular surfing spots.

The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday will take up a resolution authorizing the county’s finance director to begin negotiations on the acquisition of Banyan’s Beach.

The parcel along Ali‘i Drive measures less than 10,000 square feet in size and is part of the land under the Kona Bali Kai condominium. The owners of the individual condominiums share ownership of the 2.6 acres of land underneath the buildings and the majority of them are willing to sell the portion along the beach, the resolution said.

Acquiring Banyan’s Beach is also the No. 1 priority on the 2011 list created by the county’s Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission.

Kona Bali Kai currently provides a shower at Banyan’s Beach for use by beach-goers, and community members provide a portable toilet there, according to the resolution introduced by Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford.

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While the state Department of Land and Natural Resources maintains a 10-foot public right-of-way along the ocean, county acquisition of the parcel would expand public access mauka of the high-water mark “in perpetuity,” the resolution said.

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It would also allow for public events under the direction of the county Department of Parks and Recreation. The agency would install its own shower and a drinking fountain.

Unlike an ordinance, which specifies a funding source, Ford’s resolution authorizes the county to seek “any funding mechanisms” required to acquire Banyan’s Beach, including private or public grants.

The resolution does not name the county’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund as a funding source for Banyan’s Beach.

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The fund, which is created using 2% of the county’s property tax revenues, is apparently already earmarked for land on the commission’s 2010 list, county Property Manager Ken Van Bergen previously said.

Van Bergen is on vacation this week and was not available for comment.

Ford did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the resolution.

The county has also been looking to establish a parking lot for Banyan’s beach-goers who currently park along Ali‘i Drive.

The 17-space paved parking lot would be built on two leased parcels of land on the mauka side of Ali‘i Drive, according to an environmental assessment completed in April 2011.

Parks and Recreation spokesman Jason Armstrong said development of the parking lot, which the EA said would alleviate congestion and safety issues caused by roadside parking, is currently on hold because of a dispute over ownership of the parcels.

The only other time in recent years that the county has acquired a beach along Ali‘i Drive was in 2006 when it spent about $3 million for the acquisition of Honl’s Beach at Waiaha Bay.

Parking for users of Honl’s, which is located about two miles north of Banyan’s Beach, is also located mauka of Ali‘i Drive and was provided by a developer as a condition of a rezoning.

 

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