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Council moves forward with purchase of Keauhou Bay property

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The Hawai‘i County Council approved moving ahead with the purchase of two of the last parcels of open space on Keauhou Bay.

With the approval of Resolution 531 during Wednesday’s council meeting, the county finance director will negotiate for the purchase of two waterfront parcels, totaling 26,380 square feet, on the north side of the bay in North Kona.

The land sits north of the bay, pictured in the lower right corner of the photo. (Courtesy of Island Land Co.)

The property is across from the current boat ramp and next to a small park and bathroom facilities owned by Kamehameha Schools.

The land is No. 13 on the priority list in the 2021 annual report of the county’s Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission. The county wants to purchase the property to protect sacred burial grounds, natural resources and buffer zones, and to preserve and promote Hawaiian culture, tradition and customary practices.

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The county will use the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund to purchase the parcels. The property is currently owned by Ed and Rhonnie Rapoza, owners of Island Land Co., and their business partners, who all agreed it should be kept as open space and not sold to a developer.

“I’ve been an advocate for community and open space for years,” Ed Rapoza, a 1977 graduate of Konawaena High School, told Big Island Now in September. “And we have very little of it in Kona.”

The deal has been in the works since 2020, when the Rapozas first approached the county about the property.

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Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, who introduced Resolution 531, said during Wednesday’s meeting that the property is incredibly important and one of the last remaining empty plots of land around the bay. She also thanked the current property owners and community members who support the county’s purchase of the property.

“This is our way of giving back to the community we grew up in, we live in, and we raised our family in,” Rapoza said in September.

Among other business Wednesday, the council:

  • Approved Resolution 540, allowing for the receipt of $96,000 in federal funds to be used for promotion of alternative transportation options and safe routes to schools through the Trek the Trails project. The council also approved the first reading of Bill 209, which would appropriate those funds.
  • Approved Resolution 543 to provide $2,500 in Council District 5 contingency funds to the Hawai’i Island HIV/AIDS Foundation to assist with expenses related to its Puna community outreach program. The council also approved Resolution 544 to provide $5,000 in Council District 7 contingency funds to the foundation for expenses related to health education, testing and community outreach.
  • Approved Resolution 545 to provide $3,490 in Council District 3 contingency funds to the Hilo Education Arts Repertory Theatre to purchase equipment for its concert and theater productions. The council also approved Resolution 546 to provide $2,000 in Council District 4 contingency funds to the theater group to purchase equipment for theater productions.
  • Approved Resolutions 547 and 548, which each provide $4,000 in council contingency funds from District 8 and District 7, respectively, to the Hawai‘i Keiki Museum to assist with expenses to construct “The Power of Water” science exhibit in Kona.
  • Approved Resolution 549 to provide $1,000 in Council District 7 contingency funds to Friends of the Future for health and fitness field day events at various elementary schools in Kona. The council also approved Resolution 567 to provide $3,000 in Council District 9 contingency funds for the organization’s field day events in District 9.
  • Approved Resolution 550 to provide $5,000 in Council District 8 contingency funds to Going Home Hawai‘i for its community-based re-entry and recovery housing program in Kona.
  • Approved Resolutions 551 and 552, which each provide $5,000 in contingency funds from District 6 and District 7, respectively, and Resolution 554, which provides $2,500 in Council District 8 contingency funds, to the Lions Club of Kona Community Foundation to assist the Konawaena High School Leo Club with its community and educational outreach projects and efforts.
  • Approved Resolution 553 to provide $5,000 in Council District 1 contingency funds to the Hāmākua Health Center for festivities for the the 14th annual United Nations International Day of Peace.
  • Approved Resolution 555 to provide $3,500 in Council District 2 contingency funds to the Big Island Lions Foundation to assist with expenses related to the 2022 Hilo Downtown Christmas Lights Parade.
  • Approved Resolution 564, which authorizes the mayor to enter into a five-year agreement with an annual cost of about $5,000 to operate and maintain a county-owned radio site at Pakini, Kaʻū.
  • Approved Resolution 565 to provide $2,000 in Council District 1 contingency funds for a grant to the Hāmākua Health Center for the Honokaʻa teen Halloween dance.
  • Approved Resolution 566 to provide $5,000 in Council District 9 contingency funds for a grant to North Kohala Community Resource Center for its Kohala Cares project.
  • Approved first reading of Bill 201, which would amend the county’s state land use boundaries maps by changing the district classification from agricultural to urban for several parcels in Kealakekua.
  • Approved first reading of Bill 202, which would change the zoning from agricultural to single-family residential for a property on the east side of Highway 11 at the intersection of Ali‘i Drive and Nāpō’opo’o Road in Kealakekua.
  • Approved the first reading of Bill 210, which adds the construction of a new gym in Pāpaʻaloa and improvements to the park and existing facility to the county’s Capital Budget. The projects would come at a total price tag of $10 million, which would be paid for with general obligation bonds, capital projects funds and/or other sources and state grant money.
  • Approved the first reading of Bill 218, which would appropriate $95,481 from the federal block grants account to the first phase of an improvement project for the Hāmākua Youth and Community Center.
  • Adopted Bill 195, which changes the title of Chapter 7 in county code from “Civil Defense” to “Disaster and Emergency Management.” It also revises and reorganizes the sections in the chapter, replaces definitions, inserts sections to clarify Civil Defense Agency and its duties, clarifies requirements for Emergency Action Plans and the use of multi-governmental services and delineates the mayor’s authority to declare a state of disaster or emergency and ability to exercise emergency powers.
  • Adopted Bill 200, which relocates existing provisions for the removal of abandoned or derelict vehicles into a new article in county code, establishes that notice be placed on said vehicles stating the vehicle must be moved beyond a radius of 1 mile within 24 hours to be declassified as abandoned or derelict and establishes a vehicle disposal assistance program.
  • Adopted Bill 203, which prohibits vehicles with a gross weight rating of 5 or more tons from using Kaiminani Drive in North Kona.
  • Adopted Bill 211, which increases revenues by $240,000 and appropriates the same to the Police Department Private Contributions account to be used for overtime costs to staff police officers at traffic points along the 2022 Ironman World Championship route in Kailua-Kona.
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Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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