(BIVN) – The process to demolish the former Uncle Billy’s Hotel in Hilo is set to begin next week. The demolition contractor began mobilizing equipment today, the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources reports. State law enforcement officers will no longer patrol the abandoned property.
In July, Governor Josh Green signed an emergency proclamation concerning the hotel, a state property that had fallen into disrepair and “attracted trespassers, enabled drug use, fighting, and other illegal activities, and experienced numerous fires.” Officials said the proclamation would enable the State to quickly build a perimeter fence to physically secure the property, demolish and remove the hotel structures and hazardous materials, and restore the site.
The DLNR says the ultimate future use of the property has not been determined. A community meeting will take place next week on the future of the Waiākea Peninsula and Banyan Drive resort area.
From the Hawaiʻi DLNR:
Asbestos abatement work on the former Uncle Billy’s Hotel along Hilo’s historic Banyan Drive, will begin next week. Isemoto Contracting Company, Ltd., a locally owned Hilo company, is the demolition contractor that began mobilizing equipment today.
Over the past two and half months, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have maintained a constant, around-the-clock presence at the former Uncle Billy’s Resort and Hotel on Banyan Drive.
DOCARE’s last shift ends at 6 p.m., today. Since Sept. 13, two officers on each day and night shifts watched over the completely fenced property. During that time there were two breaches in the chain-link fence surrounding the property, but no one was cited or warned.
For the last few years, people had been living in the dilapidated structure, which was made even more dangerous after the discovery of asbestos. Abating the hazardous material will be required before the demolition contractor begins knocking the building down and clearing the property.
DLNR Chair Dawn Chang said, “We realize how long the greater Hawai‘i Island community, and folks in Hilo particularly have waited for work to begin at Uncle Billy’s. We appreciate everyone’s patience, as our primary concern has always been everyone’s health and safety. Making this building uninhabitable was key to realizing that goal.”
As Isemoto Contracting removes asbestos from one part of the structure, demolition work can begin in those locations. Both hazard abatement and demolition are scheduled to be completed by next November.
Procurement, permitting, and bidding requirements were expedited under an emergency proclamation issued by Governor Josh Green, M.D.
The ultimate future use of the property has not been determined and will involve significant input and thinking from Hilo and Banyan Drive stakeholders.
The DLNR Chairʻs Office and the DLNR Land and Engineering Divisions continue to collaborate on the Uncle Billy’s project with Hawai‘i Island Mayor Mitch Roth’s office, county departments, the county council, and area state legislators.