This story will be updated with additional media and information.
(BIVN) – The County of Hawaiʻi is moving forward with plans to preserve an area of coastal land in Pepeʻekeo.
On Wednesday, the Hawaiʻi County Council voted in support of Resolution 263-23, which authorizes the Finance Department to negotiate for the acquisition of property in the ʻIli of Pepeʻekeo utilizing the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund.
“The County seeks to acquire approximately 38.25 acres of land,” the Council agenda reads, “to protect cultural and natural resources and freshwater springs and streams, preserve and plant native coastal plants, revive agricultural lands as agroforest, facilitate managed public access for fishing and gathering sites, and enable community-based management and stewardship. The parcel is listed as priority number eight in the 2021 Annual Report of the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission.”
The resolution was introduced by Hawaiʻi County Council chair and Hāmākua representative Heather Kimball.
From Hawaiʻi County Council Resolution 263-23:
A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE TO ENTER INTO NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE ACQUISITION OF ALL OR A PORTION OF THE PROPERTY IDENTIFIED AS TAX MAP KEY (3) 2-8-008:100, SITUATED IN THE ʻILI OF PEPEʻEKEO, AHUPUAʻA OF MAKAHANALOA, DISTRICT OF HILO, UTILIZING THE PUBLIC ACCESS, OPEN SPACE, AND NATURAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION FUND.
WHEREAS, Section 10-15 of the Hawaiʻi County Charter establishes a Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund; and
WHEREAS, Section 10-15(c) of the Hawaiʻi County Charter establishes that monies in this fund may be used to purchase or otherwise acquire lands and easements for public outdoor recreation and education; and
WHEREAS, Section 2-215 of the Hawaiʻi County Code (hereinafter “the Code”) establishes the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (hereinafter “the Commission”), a duty and responsibility of which includes developing and submitting to the Mayor a prioritized list of qualifying lands worthy of preservation; and
WHEREAS, the property, identified by Tax Map Key (3) 2-8-008:100, which includes shoreline of the ʻIli of Pepeʻekeo, and consists of approximately 38.25 acres, is ranked the eighth highest priority for acquisition in the Commission’s 2021 Annual Report to the Mayor dated December 10, 2021 (see “Exhibit A” attached hereto); and
WHEREAS, Section 2-218(a) of the Code provides that: “The council shall, by resolution, select the land or lands to be preserved”, and “Where there are multiple lands under consideration at any one time, priority shall be given to coastal lands”; and
WHEREAS, the shoreline of the ʻIli of Pepeʻekeo property is currently for sale and the landowner is willing to negotiate with the County of Hawaiʻi in good faith; and
WHEREAS, the acquisition of title and conservation of the shoreline of the ʻIli of Pepeʻekeo property would be significantly beneficial to the County of Hawaii and our island community in the following ways:
1) protecting cultural and natural resources at the shoreline of Kukuilaumania, including a former kūʻula (fishing shrine);
2) preserving and planting native coastal plants to help control coastal erosion;
3) protecting fresh water springs, and streams, such as Waimāʻauʻau and Lonokaʻeho, which are important freshwater resources;
4) reviving important agricultural lands as agroforest to feed the community;
5) facilitating responsible managed public access for critical fishing and gathering sites;
6) enabling community-based management and stewardship; and
7) maintaining the rural lifestyle and historical character of Pepeʻekeo; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAIʻI that pursuant to Chapter 2, Article 42 of the Hawaiʻi County Code, the Director of Finance is hereby authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of lands and/ or conservation easements for all or a portion of the property identified as Tax Map Key (3) 2-8-008:100, situated in the ʻIli of Pepeʻekeo, Ahupuaʻa of Makahanaloa, District of Hilo, utilizing the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Director of Finance is authorized to initiate any funding mechanisms required for the acquisition of this land, in accordance with the terms of this resolution.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the County Clerk shall transmit a copy of this resolution to the Honorable Mayor Mitchell D. Roth; the Director of the Department of Finance; the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources; and the County of Hawaiʻi Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission.