Author Archives: Zalina Alvi

Park would Require Urban Zoning

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Proposed parks baseyard within Duke Maliu Regional Park would require an urban land designation.

by Zalina Alvi

A proposed $1-million parks baseyard within Duke Maliu Regional Park may not be built due to concerns over the location being suggested by county planners. 

Changes in land use designation needed to allow construction of the 5,000-square-foot facility would make the area makai of Home Pumehana and east of Kaunakakai School urban land under state zoning. It is currently designated as agricultural land. 

While members of the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) expressed concerns over opening a door to an urban designation, members of the public also spoke on behalf of the residents of the Home Pumehana retirement community, who would be new neighbors to the baseyard.

In an effort to provide more time for staff planner Nancy McPherson and county planners to present information on possible alternatives and justifications for the zoning changes, the issue has been deferred to the next MoPC meeting on Sept. 24.

Zoning Changes

Deputy Parks Director Zachary Helm told the commission of the dire need for a centrally-located baseyard large enough to house equipment storage, staff offices, maintenance shops, employee lockers, and meeting rooms. The facility would also include covered parking.

He said the proposed area in central Kaunakakai is the ideal location. The assertion was supported by a presentation made by county planning consultant Rowena Dagdag with Munekiyo & Hiraga, Inc., who cited a community meeting on the proposal that took place in 2005. 

Currently, the parks department uses several small buildings in various parts of the island, making it difficult to store and transport equipment. The department has been trying to begin construction of the baseyard for the past five years. 

Commissioner Lori Buchanan sympathized with the need for a baseyard for the parks workers, but felt that there were better alternatives. 

“There’s no argument that this is a needed project, but it’s a big leap,” she said. “I’m not comfortable with the request at this point.”

While the area would be remain under the “park” designation under the Molokai Community Plan, it would change from agricultural land to urban land under state zoning, and would change from Interim to Park, or PK-2, under county zoning.

Buchanan suggested that changes, such as the inclusion of office space in the plan, could be made to avoid changing the land use designation to urban zoning. She also requested that more information be provided to justify the need for the change.

Concern for Home Pumehana Residents

Members of the public, including several kupuna, came out to the meeting to urge the commission to consider the needs of the residents at Home Pumehana.

Concerns about noise levels were a priority for the testifiers. Helm, however, said the noise level would be minimal, and added that the baseyard would only be used during weekdays.

In the past, baseyard facilities have been constructed in the areas west of central Kaunakakai, according to former county worker Constance Hao. Several residents felt the baseyard should be kept out of nearby residential areas.

The project is looking for a recommendation from the MoPC to change the land use designation, but the Maui County Council can choose to change the zoning with or without the recommendation. 

However, if the zoning is changed, the project must still go through the MoPC for a Special Management Area major permit before construction can begin.


Molokai Planning for a Rise in Tourism

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Molokai Councilmember Danny Mateo hosts meeting to prepare for what’s to come.

By Zalina Alvi

When Molokai is hit with the surge of tourism expected to follow Father Damien’s canonization early next year, the community will be the ones in control.

Molokai Councilmember Danny Mateo was on Molokai last Friday to conduct a planning session between members of the Molokai and Maui county communities with a focus on controlling sustainable economic development on the island.

Members of the working group kept the focus on addressing the needs and concerns of the patients in Kalaupapa, and planning for ways to welcome visitors to the island while ensuring Molokai, and Kalaupapa in particular, remain uncompromised.

The working group will be meeting regularly to prepare both topside Molokai and Kalaupapa for what is to come in the following months.

Grades are in for Molokai Schools

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Annual state progress report puts two Molokai schools at the front of the pack, and the rest in line for restructuring.

For those keiki in Molokai schools that didn’t make the grade, state restructuring, training and new strategies are on their way.

By Zalina Alvi

Two Molokai schools are among only 10 schools in Maui County to make the grade in annual state progress report.

Maunaloa Elementary is the only one on the island, and one of only four in the county, achieving what is called Adequate Yearly Progress, while Kilohana Elementary is in pending Good Standing (meaning they didn’t pass this year, but they have one more chance).

Meanwhile, Kualapu`u Elementary, Kaunakakai Elementary, Molokai Middle and Molokai High join 14 others in the county in line to receive state intervention, as a result of not meeting the proficiency levels for six years or more. A handful of other county schools are scattered on levels in between.

The progress reports are part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which tests students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 on reading and math. The idea is to assess whether schools are on their way to meeting a goal of 100 percent proficiency in the two areas by 2014.

This year, however, the scores needed to pass were raised from 44 percent to 58 percent in reading, and from 28 percent to 46 percent in math, which may account for the drop in the number of schools that are in good standing.

This year, only 113 Hawaii public schools, or 40 percent, met the proficiency targets, down from 184, or 65 percent, last year. In Maui County, the number went from 15 down to just four.

The proficiency levels are first applied to the school as a whole, and then to smaller groups that are categorized by ethnicity, poverty levels, English proficiency and special education needs. If even one of these groups are falling behind, the entire school will not be able to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress.

In 2008, 68 schools in the state, or 24 percent, did not pass because of one or two of these areas.

For those schools who achieved the lowest standing and get the label “Restructuring,” they will receive special training for school administrators and staff, as well as a private education consultant to help them develop strategies to increase student test scores and overall achievement.

Last week, Maui Complex Area Superintendent Bruce Anderson also traveled to New Orleans with about half a dozen school principals to receive similar training.

Department of Education Superintendent Pat Hamamoto, however, is remaining optimistic, and said she expected more schools in Hawaii would not make the grade because of the higher scored needed to pass.

“The true significance of the results is our students are applying and practicing what they are being taught in the classroom,” she told The Maui News. “Without a doubt, student achievement in Hawaii continues to improve.”