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Banyan’s Purchase OK’d, But May Take Awhile

April 4, 2012, 6:07 PM HST
* Updated April 5, 1:17 PM
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The Hawaii County Council today approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of a small section of Kona shoreline fronting a popular surfing spot.

But county officials say the acquisition of Banyan’s Beach won’t be happening anytime soon.

The Banyan’s Beach land, located on Ali‘i Drive about 2½ miles south of Kailua-Kona, is currently part of the 2.6-acre parcel under the Kona Bali Kai, which is held jointly by owners of the building’s condominiums.

If all the owners agree to the sale, the Banyan’s Beach portion, which measures less than 10,000 square feet, would have to be subdivided out and an appraisal must be done.

Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford said the purchase will be made from the county’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund.

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Alexandra Kelepolo of the county Finance Department said the fund currently holds about $2.4 million, but there are other parcels ahead of Banyan’s on the county’s purchase list.

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Banyan’s Beach was listed as the top priority on the 2011 list established by the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission. However, the county is still completing the purchase of parcels from the commission’s 2009 list.

They include the six lots that make up the coastal Kaiholena area in North Kohala, and the Kingman Trust’s three parcels on the mauka side of Ali‘i Drive, which will provide, among other things, parking for the White Sands and Pahoehoe beach parks.

Also still to be acquired is the No. 1 priority from the commission’s 2010 list, a 26.8-acre lot fronting Pohoiki Bay in Puna. However, negotiations on that land are continuing.

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According to the minutes of the commission’s November meeting, the owners of the Pohoiki parcel are asking $2.3 million, and the county’s appraised value for the land is $845,000.

Ford’s resolution, which passed 8-0 with Puna Councilman Fred Blas absent, calls for county Finance Director Nancy Crawford to pursue a variety of private and public funding sources if needed.

The county is sometimes able to obtain state and federal grants to help bolster the open space fund purchases.

Crawford today told council members that Ford’s resolution lays the groundwork for the parcel’s acquisition.

“It offers a broad framework for funding,” she said.

Kona Bali Kai already provides a shower at Banyan’s Beach, but the county’s acquisition of the land will ensure public access to the surf site will continue, Ford said.

“The condo owners have been very gracious,” Ford said. However, she said there’s no guarantee that the parcel will remain open to the public unless it is county-controlled.

While the parcel can be purchased with the open space fund, other funding must be found for improvements such as a new shower and drinking fountain, Ford said.

The local community is currently paying for a portable toilet at the site and the county may decide to take over that responsibility or perhaps build a permanent bathroom, she said.

Having ownership will give the county control over activities in the area, and will also relieve Kona Bali Kai of liability issues, Ford said.

 

 

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