An artists rendition of the Hawaii Community College at Palamanui campus slated to open in fall 2014. Some $7.5 million in bonds is poised to help fund construction of two phases. (University of Hawaii/Special to WHT)
Culinary arts students develop a fundamental understanding of the chemistry, ingredients and hands-on techniques needed to achieve consistent results during a workshop lead by Cyrus Goo, executive pastry chef and owner of Oahu’s Cafe Laufer. (University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii culinary arts program/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Hawaii Community College at Palamanui recently moved a step forward with the appropriation of state general obligation bonds that will help fund not one, but two phases of the long-awaited West Hawaii educational institution.
The state Legislature on Thursday approved $7.5 million in state bonds for the college to be combined with Palamanui developer Palamanui LLC’s January payment of $9.68 million to complete phases I and IB of the community college, said John Morton, University of Hawaii Community Colleges vice president. Phases II and III are planned for the future.
“This moves us along a little bit faster,” Morton said of pursuing both the phases now. “It’s a commitment from the state to the Big Island and we are very pleased with the state Legislature.”
Palamanui, a development north of Kona International Airport, agreed to build the West Hawaii campus during its land use reclassification process in front of the state Land Use Commission in 2005. Financier Charles Schwab is a key principal in the development.
According to the budget request contained in Bill 2012, the funding will cover construction and equipment for phases I and IB, including ground and site improvements. Morton said the culinary arts program facility, science laboratory and classrooms totalling an estimated 30,000 square feet will be built during the phases.
Morton explained having the funding to complete the two phases at once will be not only cost-effective but efficient. Had Phase I been built before Phase IB, the university would have had to set up a temporary lab and later move it to the new phase.
The college remains on time to open for the fall semester 2014, Morton said. He was unable to provide a time line of when construction would begin but noted the money, which comes available July 1, has to be released by Gov. Neil Abercrombie before the university can take the project to bid.
He noted the university estimates the first phases will be able to accommodate approximately 700 students. Currently, about 450 students attend the school at the current Kealakekua campus, which has 12,500 square feet of classroom and office space. The second and third phases will bring the school’s capacity to 1,400 students.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” Morton said.
As the university steps forward on the campus, aspiring cooks en route to become professional chefs are raising funds to equip kitchens and classrooms there.
The University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii culinary arts program will move to the new campus when it opens for the fall semester 2014. While the physical building is paid for, the program needs to raise $1 million to equip it, said James Lightner, culinary arts program assistant professor and hospitality division chairman.
“The program is currently limited by the size of our operation,” Lightner said about the program’s current one classroom and one kitchen. “Palamanui will bring more space so that students will be able to work in teams easier, but we need to equip it.”
The $1 million would cover first- and second-year student kitchen equipment, a baking kitchen, prep and butcher area, and casual and advanced dining room cuisine areas. The figure, adjusted for 2012, includes tax, shipping, installation and a reserve fund for repairs and upgrades, he said.
Donations to the program are tax deductible through the American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association Educational Fund, he said. The program can also use in-kind donations, he added.
A variety of equipment and goods, including stoves, fryers and kitchen utensils, will be needed to stock the new facility, which will include four separate kitchens, totalling 2,800 square feet, and two dining rooms, one indoor capable of seating 60 people and the other outdoor able to seat 200, Lightner said.
He estimated the program will be able to re-use only about five percent of the equipment it has at the new facility. He noted the program has refrained from purchasing new equipment or upgrades since planning for the move to the new campus began in 2008.
Currently, 25 students take part in the program’s one- and two-year American Culinary Federation-accredited programs, he said. The program offers students after two semesters a certificate of completion, after three semesters a certificate of achievement and after four semesters, or two years, an associate of applied science.
The change of venue will increase the program’s capacity to 65 students annually. Lightner said once at the Palamanui facility, additional certificates and emphases, such as baking or regional cuisine, would be offered.
Jean Hull, longtime culinary instructor, and Lightner, are leading the fundraising effort. Donations are being accepted through the ACF-Kona Kohala Chapter and can be sent to ACF, P.O. Box 1268 Kailua-Kona, HI 96745.