(BIVN) – It may have been a difficult legislative session for lawmakers at the state capitol, but Puna’s state senator, Russell Ruderman, says the district did pretty well in terms of securing capitol improvement project funding.
Sen. Ruderman presented the list of projects to the community at a recent talk story in Pāhoa.
At the top of the list is $250,000 for a feasibility study for a safe swim area at Pohoiki. Right now, families tend to swim around the boat ramp, which presents a safety issue.
“The boat comes,” Ruderman explained, “everybody says ‘Boat! Boat!’ and the kids get out of the way and they are three feet from a propeller. It’s going to be a disaster someday. So, we’re hoping to get a safe swim area carved out of the County Park there. That’s probably the most likely outcome.”
“We’ve working on that for three years, so it’s great that it came through this year,” Ruderman said.
Ruderman gave a lot of credit for the Pohoiki study to the prioritization of fellow Puna legislator, Representative Joy San Buenaventura, who also helped get $500,000 allocated for a cafeteria at Pāhoa Elementary School.
Ruderman also said $40 million dollars “is designated for the next two years for Highway 130 improvements, which is good news. That should finish the Shower Drive intersection and begin to extend it to a four-lane highway pretty far towards Pāhoa, possibly all the way.”
Ruderman also had an update on the new state library planned for the district. “Although nothing happened this year in terms of funding because it wasn’t needed,” the senator said, “I’m so happy and proud to say that the Puna Regional Library is going forward. This is something I got going a few years ago and they didn’t need any money this year. But it’s on the books and they have even identified a parcel that’s the most likely location for it, right here in Pāhoa town.”
“I’m not supposed to say where it is, because it’s not a fully done deal yet,” Rumderman said, “but it’s looking pretty good I’m very happy about it.”
“There may one day be two Puna libraries, but it’s one-at-a-time, and the first ones going to come to Pāhoa. And it is moving forward… as fast as library development goes,” Ruderman added.
Ruderman also talked about a few notable grants-in-aid for Puna non-profits. 63,000 for The Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences is getting $63,000 for a community facility and $28,000 for a fire alarm system. In addition, $118,875 is going to Malama O Puna for efforts to kokua the Keau‘ohana Native Forest Reserve, the largest and most intact lowland wet forest remaining below 1,000 feet in elevation in the State of Hawaii.