Letters 12-24-13

Makalapua site is best choice for Judiciary complex

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to a Nov. 28 letter to the editor which criticized selection of land owned by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust, near Makalapua, as the new site for the Kona Judiciary Complex project.

As noted in the letter, the site originally selected for the project was on a state-owned parcel, situated near the West Hawaii Civic Center. However, that letter neglected to mention an endangered uhi uhi plant was subsequently discovered on that parcel, near the civic center site, which made future development of the project on that parcel not viable because of protections under federal law.

Fortunately, the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Kona Judiciary Complex project had site evaluations and environmental reviews on seven possible sites. The civic center site and the Makalapua site were the highest rated among the seven sites considered in the FEIS.

Thereafter, the Department of Accounting and General Services conducted due diligence investigations on other sites considered for the Kona Judiciary Complex project. The Judiciary selected the Makalapua site because: it does not have any endangered species or significant archaeological features; QLT has committed to providing land for Judiciary purposes at a nominal price to the state; and QLT has potable water credits for future developments on that site.

With an adjustment of land acquisition costs, it is anticipated the project cost on the Makalapua site will be about $1.2 million less than the project cost on the civic center site. Also: Judiciary officials do not anticipate the construction timetable and budget for the project will be significantly impacted by the change in location; design work is underway; and the Board of Land and Natural Resources has given preliminary approval to acquire the Makalapua parcel.

It is hoped the information provided explains why the Makalapua site is the best location and best value for the state. The Kona Judiciary Complex will provide the people of West Hawaii with a consolidated court facility that meets the needs of the area’s growing population.

Ralph Morita,

Planning Branch chief

Hawaii Department of Accounting and

General Services