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Notice to proceed on Lako Street extension could be issued this year

Updated: 
March 15, 2017 - 8:17pm

KAILUA-KONA — A notice to proceed on the Lako Street extension could be issued later this year.

And, if all goes smoothly, the mauka-makai connector/emergency route could open for use in 2019, Department of Public Works Director Frank DeMarco told West Hawaii Today on Wednesday.

It’s currently estimated the extension will cost about $12 million.

The project will extend Lako Street nearly 1,900 feet from its current terminus near the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity to Alii Drive, providing egress and ingress between the makai road and Kuakini Highway. It would meet Alii Drive near Holualoa Bay.

The county has planned to extend Lako Street since the turn of the century, but has been unable to bring it to fruition. Now, a private developer is taking the reins to complete the road project, which would eventually be deeded to the county.

Canada-based Berezan Management submitted on March 2, 2015, plans for a road realignment that included a roundabout at the extension’s terminus with Alii Drive. Since, it has had draft plans reviewed, including a traffic impact analysis report, and the county is now waiting for the developer to address comments engineers sent back to the developer, De Marco said.

The road project is part of a fair-share contribution allowing for a development on four parcels owned by RMB #20 Hawaii, whose lone officer is listed as Ralph Berezan, owner of the above referenced development company. The development does not have yet have a name, according to Public Works Deputy Director Allan Simeon.

The parcels together cover 22.58 acres from Alii Drive to Lako Street, according to property tax records.

The project is mentioned in minutes from a November 2014 Kona Community Development Plan Action Committee meeting that make reference to a final version of the Lako Street extension and plans by Ralph Berezan, whom was at the meeting, to do “a traditional neighborhood design, with a village commercial core with an easy walking distance, residential walks and duplex properties.”

The developer is also actively working on plans for the State Historic Preservation Division to ensure archaeological features are “protected and preserved,” DeMarco said. The plan needs to be approved by the division before the project can proceed.

“There is a number of archaeological features,” DeMarco said. “An entire community was associated with this area this was no small thing and it’s probably going to take some time.”

County maps acknowledge that the area, known as Holualoa 3rd and 4th, contains a concentration of archaeological sites. The 16-acre Keakealaniwahine complex dominates the adjoining lot and Hikapaia heiau, or temple, sits on the Kobayashi property. There are also walls and other features on the property.

DeMarco said the archaeological features must be cared for in order for the project to move forward, adding that it could delay the issuing of a notice to proceed and thus the final completion date.

“Much of Kona has a lot of historic Native Hawaiian use, and so we just have to be mindful of that and be very careful with how we proceed with these projects so we don’t impact the community and the precious historic features,” he said.

The county has planned to extend Lako Street since at least 2000, when an environmental assessment was undertaken. The final EA was completed in fall 2004, with a finding of no significant impact. That EA said construction would start mid-year 2005 and cost $2 million.

County officials began meeting with West Hawaii residents in late 2007 in an attempt to address community concerns about the proposed extension.

Just before Mayor Billy Kenoi took office in 2008, a former Public Works director told West Hawaii residents he would be recommending the incoming administration shelve the project. Shortly after taking office Kenoi made mauka-makai connector roads a priority; Laaloa Avenue, connection Alii Drive to Kuakini Highway, was opened in 2015.

In 2014, the county said it still did not have a timeline for building the road.

Attempts to reach Ralph Berezan were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

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