TMT Reaffirms Hopes for Mauna Kea, Despite Canary Islands Viewing

March 22, 2016, 4:23 PM HST (Updated March 30, 2016, 2:14 PM)
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Summit of Mauna Kea. Univesity of Hawai'i photo.

Summit of Mauna Kea. Univesity of Hawai’i photo.

Despite recent talk that Thirty Meter Telescope officials are searching for a new location for the $1.4 billion project in the Canary Islands, a spokesperson told Big Island Now Tuesday afternoon that TMT is still hopeful that a state Conservation District Use Permit will be secured to begin “timely construction” on Mauna Kea.

On Monday morning, TMT posted photographs of board members and TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders visiting an observatory site at La Palma in the Canary Islands last week.

The post included the text, “TMT Board members and TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders visited the observatory site at La Palma in the Canary Islands last weekend. Beautiful site!”

Conjecture over whether or not TMT officials would select a new site has been in the air since February, when TMT Executive Director Ed Stone told the Associated Press that the board of directors had decided to identify other sites in case the telescope is unable to be built in Hawai’i.

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Monday’s post on the TMT Facebook page, evoked emotions from page fans who left comments, including one in which an individual noted that “TMT belongs in Hawai’i!”

“TMT is looking at a number of sites, both those that were previously considered as well as some new ones,” TMT spokesperson Scott Ishikawa said Tuesday. “The specific sites are not being disclosed at this time.”

In February, when word about TMT searching for other potential sites got out, the University of Hawai’i re-emphasized its continued support for the project.

TMT officials want the construction of the controversial project underway by April 2018.

Just over a month ago, TMT’s Conservation District Use Permit was officially vacated. The Third Circuit Court officially rescinded the permit and remanded the matter to the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

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