(BIVN) – State Senator Kai Kahele, one of the few legislators to come out in favor of a construction moratorium on the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Mauna Kea during the early days of the standoff between law enforcement and project opponents, has reviewed Mayor Harry Kim’s A Way Forward plan and commented on it Tuesday in Kona.
Sen. Kahele said he had opportunity to go see Mayor Kim before the plan was publicly released. The booklet produced by the mayor, after months of meetings, continues to envision the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, but also explains that new management is needed for the mountain.The University of Hawaiʻi leases the summit from the state and also manages the mountain.
When Kahele first introduced legislation to create a new Mauna Kea Management Authority in 2018, he said he took part in “extensive community conversations on what the future of Mauna Kea should look like.” The legislation failed to pass, but Kahele believes Mauna Kea management decisions “should come from the people.”
Whether or not the Mayor’s plan goes far enough as a negotiated resolution to the situation on the Mauna, in particular after opponents of the observatory have said that TMT is non-negotiable, Kahele said “it’s an irrelevant question.”
“I think with with or without [TMT], we need to change the management of Mauna Kea,” Kahele said, “and what does the future of Mauna Kea look like? What does the future of astronomy look like on Mauna Kea?”
“I think if 30 meter was, and should be, willing to give the state of Hawaiʻi and the community the opportunity to shape that future, then we need time to do that,” Kahele continued. “This is not something that you can solve in a few months. I think it needs extensive community conversations.”
“Mayor Kim’s plan is aspirational, but the devil’s in the details,” the Hilo senator said, “and we need the details. That’s not something that was in his plan, that’s something that’s gonna take a lot of time and effort. A lot of community consultations.”