NOTE: This story was produced for our TV program on Na Leo o Hawaii and uploaded to YouTube in March 2013, but it was only posted to our website in December 2013 as a part of our Best of 2013 series.
KEAUHOU, Hawaii – A number of bills passing through the state legislature this session could transfer the management of certain state parks to the domain of Hawaii County. Under discussion are Hapuna Beach along the South Kohala coast, Mauna Kea State Park along Saddle Road, and portions of Banyan Drive, Hilo’s hopeful resort area.
We caught up with Mayor Billy Kenoi in Kona recently and we talked about the effort to take over the parks. He feels they have been neglected under the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Also, with the Merrie Monarch Festival right around the corner, the need for accommodations in Hilo is as apparent as ever. The mayor says the current state of Banyan Drive is deplorable.
County representatives have tried to wrest these parcels from the DLNR before. DLNR officials have always opposed any transfer. This year is no different. But this year, some legislators sound agreeable to the county’s position. The state house introduced a measure for Banyan Drive.
And the senate has also pushed forward with transfer bills. State Senator Malama Solomon has been supportive of the idea.