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Kona Judiciary Complex Plans Receive Warm Community Response

December 19, 2014, 6:53 AM HST
* Updated December 19, 6:56 AM
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Potential plans for the Kona Judiciary Complex were accessible to the public for the first time early this week at the West Hawai’i Civic Center.

Judiciary officials said the public’s response to the preliminary rendering and design plans for the new Kona Judiciary Complex were “overwhelmingly positive” from the more than 50 people who attended the open house.

Nick Rudd, a Kailua Kona community member who is a retired construction inspector, responded extremely well of the structure, saying, “I participated in remodeling a courthouse in England. This Kona courthouse is impressive.”

Members from various aspects of the community attended the informal meeting, as well as representatives from state and city government and businesses in the area.

As part of the meeting, members from the West Hawai’i Bar had the opportunity to ask questions and gather input from the community and deliver it to the Third Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Chief Court Administrator Lester Oshiro, Deputy Chief Court Administrator Dawn West, and other officials and staff from the Hawai’i State Judiciary.

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Also in attendance were representative from the Department of Accounting and General Services, as well as Architects Hawai’i, the architectural firm responsible for the design. Both groups were available to answer public questions.

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“We appreciate the community’s feedback and support for a judiciary complex to better serve West Hawai’i,” said Third Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra. “This courthouse will ensure that the Judiciary can fulfill its mission of providing justice for the West Hawai’i community in a secure and efficient venue.”

Judge Ibarra also made note during the event that the Judiciary has long made aware the need to consolidate Kona court proceedings. Currently court affairs are handled in three different locations.

“Those venues were not originally designed for court operations and present a myriad of logistical and security challenges,” Ibarra said.

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A ten-acre parcel mauka of Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway across Makala Boulevard from the Makalapua Center is the planned location for the complex. The plan for the structure is to have significant security and electronic equipment provisions, as well as be built to be water, energy, and environmentally efficient and sustainable.

The planned three-story complex will be 143,000-square-feet and will have at least five courtrooms, conference rooms, a law library, a self-help center, and about 300 parking stalls.

In attendance at the community gathering was Hawai’i County Council Chair Dru Kanuha, who said he was pleased with how the project is moving along. “The West Hawai’i community has been in need of a courthouse for so long. We appreciate our legislature for proving the initial funding for this important project and encourage them to appropriate the remaining funds needed to complete construction at the legislative session.”

The total cost of the Kona Judiciary Complex is estimated to be about $90 million. So far, the legislature has committed $35 million to fund the project, and the Judiciary plans to seek the remaining $55 million during the 2015 legislative session.

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