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Kim, compost contractor reach agreement

Updated: 
April 20, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaiian Earth Recycling announced an agreement Wednesday that trims $1.5 million off its original contract and relocates a planned composting facility away from the Keaukaha/Panaewa neighborhood that doesn’t want it.

Kim said the administration and Hawaiian Earth representatives negotiated by phone over the weekend, and then met in person Monday before striking an agreement. Kim has rescinded his notice of contract termination and the company agreed to charge the current price for mulch as the county seeks a new site and gets environmental clearance over the next two to three years.

“We still have other things to work out, but this was a huge thing,” Kim said. “I’m very happy with this agreement.”

In a press release dubbed a “joint” release from the county and the contractor, Kim praised Clyde Kaneshiro, local representative for Hawaiian Earth, saying the agreement couldn’t have been reached without his “fairness and cooperation.”

Kaneshiro did not return a telephone message by press time Wednesday.

The agreement was welcomed by County Council Environmental Management Committee Chairwoman Eileen O’Hara, who said a council resolution urging the contract continue was withdrawn earlier Wednesday after council members were informed by the mayor’s office an agreement was coming.

“This is wonderful. This is what the council has been urging all along,” O’Hara said. “We’ve exerted a lot of pressure, some of it visible to the public, some of it not.”

O’Hara said the county will be looking at sites around the island. She said the West Hawaii landfill at Puuanahulu remains a strong candidate, especially if the county drills a new well to bring a better quality water to the site. Concerns about the current water source being too salty previously kept the site out of contention.

Hawaiian Earth Recycling — which holds the current mulch contract — was the only company responding to a request for proposals issued by the former administration. The mulch contract expires June 30. The county will continue with its current mulching projects at Kealakehe and the two county landfills under the new contract.

Under the terms of the 10-year composting contract, the county will pay $10.4 million for the construction of the facility, and pay a tipping fee for organic waste delivered to the facility, with the contractor able to sell both the mulch and the resulting compost to the public.

Mulch is basically ground-up green waste, while compost is the decomposed product after food waste is added to green waste. A fertilizer and soil amendment, compost done correctly is free of insects and other invasive pests.

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