East Hawaii News

Public Invited to Submit Properties for Open Space Program

March 13, 2014, 11:15 AM HST
* Updated March 13, 12:37 PM
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The public is being invited to nominate properties to be candidates for the county’s Open Space program.

The recommendations will be reviewed by the County of Hawaii Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission, also known as PONC.

Factors to be considered include significant attributes of each property such as historic and culturally important features, opportunities for outdoor recreation and education, public access to beaches or mountains, protection of natural resources and watershed lands, potential partners for management and preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas and natural beauty.

Nomination forms are due by June 30, 2014.

Potential acquisitions are then prioritized and listed in a report that is sent to Mayor Billy Kenoi at the end of each year. The mayor then forwards his recommendations to the Hawai‘i County Council, which adopts resolutions to authorize property purchases.

(See more information on the process.)

Past open space purchases total 1,249 acres, and include Kawa oceanfront parcels in Ka‘u; Kaiholena and Pa‘o‘o oceanfront parcels in North Kohala; Kipapa Park (mauka of Magic Sands Beach Park in Kailua-Kona); property near Waipio Lookout in Hamakua; and the newly acquired ‘O‘oma oceanfront parcel in North Kona.

The county is currently in negotiations for acquisition of the top priority on the 2013 report, 322 acres bordering the Waiopae Marine Life Conservation District.

PONC funds are derived from 2% of Hawai‘i County’s annual real property tax revenues.  The county has also been able to obtain more than $7.5 million in matching funds and donations from other sources to help purchase open space properties.

A maintenance fund has also been established to maintain properties that are acquired with PONC funds.

The nine PONC commissioners represent each of the nine County Council districts on Hawai‘i Island. To find out the commissioner for your district go here.

The Commission meets every other month at the Hilo County Building or the West Hawai’i Civic Center, and public testimony is welcome.

For more information on the program, including annual reports, contact Alexandra Kelepolo of the County of Hawai‘i Property Management Division at (808) 961-8069, at Suite 1101 in the County Building at 25 Aupuni St., or visit the website.

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