Commissioners Defer on Credit Union
Expansion plans raise concerns for neighborhood residents.
By Melissa Kelsey
The general consensus at the Molokai Planning Commission meeting today was that the Federal Credit Union remodeling project would be good for Kaunakakai. However, the site designated for the new paved motor vehicle entrance is currently a play area for children who live in the nearby teachers' cottages.
The Molokai Community Federal Credit Union is a vital center of island commerce, helping residents of the Friendly Isle collaborate to obtain loans and financing. Inside its worn-out, pink building on Ala Malama Street, the Federal Credit Union (FCU) is cramped for space. As a result, the organization is seeking permits to expand its facilities, according to Molokai Staff Planner Nancy McPherson.
Last Wednesday, the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) voted to defer making a motion on whether or not FCU can go ahead with its remodeling plans. McPherson said FCU hopes to expand the front of its building closer to the sidewalk and move the parking lot to the back of the building, making a rear entrance to the parking lot from Kukui Place Road.
“This will bring vitality to the community,” said MoPC Vice Chair Steve Chaikin. “There is no question this will be a great improvement.”
McPherson said FCU has an agreement with St. Sophia Church to share the proposed parking area. As a result of elderly and handicapped church patrons struggling with inadequate parking at St. Sophia, the church needs the new parking lot to function well, according to an architect representing the church.
However, several community members present at the MoPC meeting expressed concern about the proposed location for the new parking lot, and the increased traffic it would generate for Kukui Place Road. The site of the proposed parking lot entrance is currently a common play area for neighborhood keiki.
“There are many small children playing in front of the road right in front of the teachers’ cottages,” said community member Melvin Chung, who welcomed the expansion, but worried about the specifics. “If it is approved, it will be added congestion, inconvenience and a safety problem.”
Jonathan Smith, manager of the teachers’ cottages on Kukui Place Road, suggested that the FCU entrance remain at its current location in the expansion plans.
“Our community really needs this project,” said Chaikin. “We have to come up with some kind of solution that is good for both parties.”
Requesting more time to review the expansion plans, the commissioners voted unanimously to delay making a decision on the project until the August 5 MoPC meeting.
“We have got a bunch of smart people here,” said Chaikin. “I would like to see people come up with some various best case scenarios so that we have a chance of moving this thing forward.”