Comment on Na’iwa Subdivision Project
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is moving forward with the construction of infrastructure improvements to the Na’iwa Agricultural Subdivision project near the Ho’olehua Airport. The 341-acre parcel will be subdivided into 66 lots, 50 of which have already been awarded to beneficiaries. That’s according to DHHL’s Draft Environmental Assessment for the project, which was just released and currently in a 30-day public review comment period.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $34.6 million. Proposed improvements include access roadways, electrical power, irrigation and potable water for agricultural use of the lots, as well as support the construction of homes and infrastructure built by beneficiaries.
“The Naʻiwa Agricultural Subdivision seeks to provide native Hawaiians with an opportunity to return to the land and promote self-sufficiency through farming opportunities,” the EA document states.
Lot sizes range between four to eight acres. Of the 66 lots anticipated, DHHL is investigating eight vacant lots for potential division into two lots.
“The final lot count will be based on an examination of all lots including vacant lots for feasibility for agricultural uses with the objective of meeting the stated purpose and need for the project,” the EA states. “This is due to terrain, proximity to the Molokai Airport, or other constraints that affect the potential for development. The proposed project will help DHHL provide infrastructure improvements to support future use of the lots for agricultural homestead uses. The subdivision and design are being preliminarily worked on and may be subject to change based on the final design requirements of the site.”
The project’s goal is to place more homesteaders on land, many of whom have been in limbo on DHHL’s waitlist for decades. According to DHHL, there are 2,139 native Hawaiian beneficiaries on the DHHL Molokai waitlist as of June 2021.
There is currently no estimated date by when beneficiaries may be able to move onto the lots. The project is currently in the design phase. The total project costs including planning, design and construction of proposed site infrastructure are estimated at about $35,640,000. DHHL says the project’s schedule will depend on availability of funds and improvements may have to be phased because “DHHL’s construction budget may not be able to fund construction of all proposed improvements.”
The EA document states construction is scheduled to begin “as soon as practicable pending the availability of funds.” Once begun, completion of the project is expected to take between 12 and 24 months.
The public comment period is open until June 22.
The community may review the 793-page draft environmental assessment online at files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/erp/Doc_Library/2023-05-23-MO-DEA-Naiwa-Agricultural-Subdivision.pdf. Comments can be emailed to DHHL at: Solana.S.Rosa-Tutop@hawaii.gov, and include consultant BrianT@rmtowill.com.