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County Completes ‘Open Space’ Purchase of ‘O‘oma

January 3, 2014, 6:08 PM HST
* Updated January 6, 10:57 AM
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The County of Hawaii has completed the purchase of 217 acres of Kona coastline.

The property in ‘O‘oma, located between Kohanaiki Shores and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, is the latest acquisition in the county’s Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resource Preservation Program.

The last privately held open coastline between Kailua-Kona and the Kukio resort, ‘O‘oma was the top-ranked property on the open space commission’s latest report.

The Māmalahoa Trail and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail run through the property, and the preservation of ‘O‘oma also will help preserve ocean quality and contribute to a healthy reef, the county said in a press release.

“This open space purchase is the culmination of over 25 years of efforts on the part of the Kona community, which held onto a vision of an open coastline at Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma,” said County Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who has been involved with the community movement to protect Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma in various capacities over the years.

“This is an awesome gift to our community and validates the power in a shared vision.”

The purchase of the ‘O‘oma property closed on Dec. 31 for $6.2 million, slightly more than half the $12 million asking price. County officials said the Kohanaiki Shores development assisted the county in the purchase with a $2 million donation.

The county said the acquisition also enhances the public benefit of the 1.5-mile Kohanaiki Beach Park just to the south of ‘O‘oma, which opened to the public in June 2013.

The county anticipates preserving ‘O‘oma in its current natural condition as a buffer between the mauka urban area and the ocean, while allowing access for passive recreation and subsistence fishing, officials said.

“This open space purchase adds another important, publicly owned shoreline recreational area that will serve many thousands of our residents, and will provide a place for our children and families to enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This purchase required a cooperative effort by many community members, and we thank them for their efforts.”

Since Kenoi took office in 2008, the county has acquired more than 1,247 acres to preserve shorelines and open space. That includes Kawa  in Ka‘u (785 acres), Kaiholena (228 acres) and Pao‘o (10 acres) in Kohala, and La‘aloa (6 acres) in Kona.

The county is also looking to purchase 322 acres in lower Puna as part of the open space program.

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