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County Completes Second Revitalize Puna Event

October 18, 2021, 6:50 AM HST
* Updated October 17, 10:57 AM
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The County of Hawai‘i’s Disaster Recovery Division and Council District 4 hosted the second quarterly Revitalize Puna community activation on Tuesday with a focus on “setting the table” for community and County collaboration and action.

About 100 people, including Puna residents and County officials, participated in the online event via Zoom that included updates on Kīlauea recovery infrastructure projects, updates from Resilience Capacity Areas (RCAs) and Action Teams as part of implementation of the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan, a “resource happy hour” with local nonprofits, and a drive-thru meal kit and resource bag pickup at Maku‘u Farmer’s Market. A total of 150 meal kits, paid for by Puna Geothermal Venture, were purchased and distributed as part of this event

“We will start conversations today that help us set the table,” Douglas Le, County Disaster Recovery Officer, told participants. “It’s about laying a foundation. We felt the metaphor ‘setting the table’ was appropriate for how we prioritize sharing resources and working together on our community.”

RCA co-chairs from the community and County that have formed since the initial Revitalize Puna event in June in Leilani Estates presented on their vision and the actions they will take together over the next 90 days. RCAs address resilience categories such as social, economic, cultural, natural environment, built environment, and youth. Each RCA includes Action Teams that will focus on projects to create a strong, vibrant community.

Representing the Economic RCA, District 4 Council member Ashley Kierkiewicz described their vision as creating an “ecosystem where residents can take their ideas and put them into action.”

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“As the County and community come together in this new way for collective action, it’s important for us to develop a cadence and structure for how we work together,” she said. “And we do that by building up small wins so that we can tackle the more complicated, bigger projects with each other over the next two years and over the long term.”

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Providing updates on infrastructure investments were Zendo Kern, County Planning Director; Ikaika Rodenhurst, County Public Works Director, Maurice Messina, County Parks and Recreation Director; and Keith Okamoto, County Water Supply Manager-Chief Engineer. John Andoh, Mass Transit Administrator, also provided updates on bus service in Puna.

Through a combination of Federal and State funding, the County is receiving $82 million for road projects, $40 million for water projects, and $4.9 million for parks projects.

For roads, the County has identified restoration of Highway 137, Lighthouse Road, upper Pohoiki Road, and realignment of lower Pohoiki Road as projects to be funded. Additionally, about 1,000 feet of Leilani Avenue from Pohoiki Road to Kahukai Street is planned for restoration to provide access to homes in a kipuka.
The Department of Water Supply has identified restoration of a waterline down Pohoiki Road to Isaac Hale Beach Park as a recovery project and is identifying alternate projects to be spent in Puna with the assistance. A public meeting will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. Oct. 28 via Zoom to receive input on proposed projects. Registration information will be announced shortly.

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Proposed Parks projects identified with the recovery funds include: $2.86 million for Isaac Hale Beach Park, $1.76 million for department equipment, and $350,000 for other Puna parks projects.

Participants also learned about efforts to develop an asset and vulnerability map for Puna and were asked to complete a Community Readiness Inventory survey, sign up for Resilience Action Teams, reaffirm/refine guiding principles in the Resilience Action Playbook, and give feedback on infrastructure investments. Puna residents are invited to give their input by completing these surveys and forms at recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/revitalizepuna.

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