Judiciary complex still on schedule


The long-awaited Kona Judiciary Complex remains on schedule for a 2019 opening despite the state Legislature this session approving just 10 percent of the $90 million the state judiciary requested for the West Hawaii project.

“We plan to go back before the Legislature next year and request the rest of the money,” said Dawn West, 3rd Circuit Court deputy administrator. “The Legislature already funded land acquisition and design — the state has already dedicated money to this project so it really doesn’t make sense to design it and not find the money to actually construct it.”

Just $9 million of the $90 million sought to complete the Kona Judiciary Complex was approved by the 2013 state Legislature during its session that wrapped up last week. In all, the state has put forth more than $12 million to acquire land, plan and design the facility.

The reduction follows a session in which the requested $90 million in funding was included, removed, partially reinstated and then ultimately reduced to $9 million.

Despite not receiving the funding sought by the judiciary, West said the Kona Judiciary Complex remains on schedule with final design work completed and a contractor selected by June 2015.

Construction is slated to begin in March 2016, she said. Building the facility is expected to take two years followed by about a year of work to furnish and equip it. The court facility would open to users and staff in early 2019, she said. That jibes with dates provided by officials in December.

West provided the update on the Kona Judiciary Complex’s status during Laiopua 2020’s annual “Alliance For A Sustainable Ahupuaa” meeting held Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center in North Kona. The meeting brings various stakeholders, landowners and others together to discuss happenings, development and issues within the Kealakehe and Keahuolu ahupuaa.

“We don’t have a courthouse in West Hawaii,” she said, adding that a courthouse is also a sign of a civilized society. “We’ve got four courts in three primary locations in Kona and none of these were designed for court use.”

The 140,000 square-foot complex will accommodate seven full-time judges and 220 employees. Judiciary officials anticipate it will meet West Hawaii’s needs beyond 2030. Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald selected the site, located on the southwest corner of Ane Keohokalole Highway and Kealakehe Parkway.