East Hawaii News

County P&R, Mayor Sued Over Kukuihaele Park Project

April 7, 2016, 4:30 PM HST
* Updated April 7, 4:12 PM
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Map location of Kukuihaele Park. Image from County of Hawai'i Draft Environmental Assessment.

Map location of Kukuihaele Park. Image from County of Hawai’i Draft Environmental Assessment.

A group of six individuals and organizations have filed an injunction and complaint in Third Circuit Court over proposed improvements for Kukuihaele Park.

The preliminary injunction names the County of Hawai’i Department of Parks and Recreation and its director, Clayton Honma, as defendants, as well as Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi. It was filed on Wednesday.

Kukuihaele Neighborhood Association is one of the plaintiffs in the complaint, along with area residents Rudolph Angelo, David Allen, Colleen Lawrence, Miequel White, and Koohan Paik.

Proposed improvements to Kukuihaele Park were proposed last year by County Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter last year, with a price tag of $2.5 million dollars, $200,000 of that number allocated for design and survey costs. The proposal was approved last June.

In court documents, the plaintiffs allege that “by mid-July 2015, word began to spread through the Kukuihaele neighborhood ‘s coconut wireless that DPR had plans for Kukuihaele Park that included construction of a baseball field, pavilion, paved parking, and a comfort station.” Residents claim that the plan for the baseball field is “too elaborate” for the community of less than 350 people.

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Last August, the plaintiffs claim that Poindexter told a group of community members at a meeting that she did not know what was plan for the park. In November, after Draft Environmental Assessment was submitted by P&R, department told community members in a meeting that the project plan was not available for public review. Attempts were made by community members to extend a public comment period on the project.

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The plaintiffs allege that a Draft and Final Environmental Assessment was insufficient, and a Finding of No Sufficient Impact is believed to be incorrect.

As it relates to the FEA, plaintiffs say that the statement that there are no archaeological or historic sited near the area, which they feel is incorrect, citing that the ‘Ele’io Church is across the street, with two cemeteries connected.

The suit also claims that the Department of Water Supply issued a letter last October stating that water “availability in the area is restricted to existing services only” and that the Kukuihaele Water System does not have sufficient capacity to provide existing water at this time.”

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“We have sent letters, conducted surveys, made phone calls, held meetings, and even sent them our own designs,” said KNA President Colleen Lawrence. “They refused to hear our concerns, so we are forced to go to court.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Kenoi’s office says that they had not seen the suit yet, and a request for comment from the County’s Corporation Counsel was not returned prior to press time.

A hearing date has not been set.

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