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.
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.