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Renovations for Mitchell Pauole Center

An expansion and improvement project has been proposed for Kaunakakai’s community facility, the Mitchell Pauole Center (MPC). The changes include expansion of the existing lanai and construction of a new freestanding lanai, as well as updating the facility’s kitchen and upgrading the entire building to current Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards.

The improvements are valued at $300,000, with approximately 2,288 square foot of renovations. The project description lists the need for ADA improvements to the facility’s restrooms, parking lot, kitchen cabinets and other amenities. It also calls for lighting and electrical systems to be replaced to improve efficiency. An added covered, freestanding lanai area proposed for the east side of the existing facility would be 43 feet wide by 67 feet deep.

The plan was presented to the Molokai Planning Commission last week for approval of the required Special Management Area Minor permit, but commissioners said they lacked enough public input on the project to make a decision.

The project must be approved quickly, however, before funding earmarked for the improvements run out at the end of the year, according to April Shiotani, director of capital improvements for the county’s Parks and Recreation Dept. Shiotani said the expansion portions of the project were lumped together with the ADA and kitchen improvements to save money on construction costs.

“It was tied together because we’d get more bang for the buck so we could get more done as opposed to doing lots of little projects,” said Shiotani.

The project has already been opened up to bidding contractors. Shiotani said if everything moves forward as currently planned, construction would begin in early February and MPC would be closed for the rest of the year. Parks and Rec staff say that as of now, no reservations are being taken for MPC from February until the end of 2014 during the planned construction period.

Shiotani told commissioners the addition is too large a portion of the project to remove at this point. If they turned down the project, she said, her department would have to cancel the bid and wait until the next fiscal year in 18 months to resubmit the project for only the ADA and other approved portions.

Many commissioners said while they supported the ADA portion of the project, they felt rushed in making a decision that would drastically change Kaunakakai’s only community center without the public’s participation.

“I’d like to have input on the community use of the building and how it’s going to change the types of entertainment and activities that we have,” said commissioner Zhantell Dudoit. “It looks like structure could take away a lot of seating space.”

Shiotani said the expansion portion was originally suggested by Mayor Alan Arakawa and former Molokai county councilman Danny Mateo.

Mateo told the Dispatch that he did propose the project a few years ago, but had not been told it was moving forward or included in the planning process.

“Our community has virtually outgrown the Mitchell Pauole Center – it’s way too small,” he said, calling expansion of the facility “a no-brainer.”

“We all know [MPC] is in dire need of growth and expansion, but we need to get community input,” he added.

Other planning commissioners expressed hope that they would have been more involved in the development of the project.

“The commission would like to be included in the planning process,” said commissioner Billy Buchanan. “It seems like we’re more like the review board [than the planning commission].”

“We didn’t expect to have issues or opposition,” admitted Shiotani. “This is the first time that it’s gone to the public.”

Because of that, resident Judy Caparida, one of the few community members attending last week’s Planning Commission meeting, testified in favor of a delayed decision.

“If it’s the first time that this has been brought up, I don’t think we should pass it because this is the only place where we have all kinds of activities,” said Caparida. “So I think we should take more of a look at it.”

Commissioners voted to defer the issue until the December meeting, and Shiotani said the Parks and Rec Dept would ask people, like Mateo, who had originally suggested the expansion to offer testimony, to come and discuss the expansion at that time. Shiotani told the Dispatch afterward that if that was not possible, they would consider holding a separate community meeting before then to gain further public input on the project.


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