EC Approaching Sunset
Molokai Enterprise Community, in partnership with the Kalamaula Homestead Association, will lead the restoration process of the Kalanianaole Hall, a building registered in the State Historic Sites.
By Léo Azambuja
The Molokai Enterprise Community final days are only nine months away. After almost ten years serving Molokai, where it included and supported over 40 projects, the EC will transition to the non-profit Ke Aupuni Lokahi (KAL). However, board members fear the EC will lose federal money allocated for many projects if a transition plan is not ready by the EC’s sunset.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Molokai as an Enterprise Community (EC) in 1998, opening the door to millions of dollars in grants for community-based projects.
Throughout the years, the EC had its ups and downs. The non-profit lost community support after most members backed up Molokai Ranch’s plan to develop La`au Point. In 2007, the USDA scrutinized the EC’s actions, and as a result EC meetings shut down from April until the end of the year. Because of the shutdown and other problems, board elections are past due.
At the last meeting, held March 20 at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) conference room, the EC board voted to schedule a series of meetings to plan for the EC transition. The EC will continue to exist as KAL, but without the federal designation.
Since Abbey Mayer left the EC, the Executive Director position has not been replaced. The EC is also looking for someone to fill the administrator position. Interim Executive Director Stacy Crivello said she thinks the EC will probably find an administrator before finding an Executive Director.
Board members will discuss elections in the Board Development meeting, April 23. But member Cheryl Corbiell said she thinks the EC needs to put its actions toward a transition plan, versus bringing new members, noting that in its few months left the EC needs “every piece of knowledge” to help into sunset.
Corbiell said board members have a fiduciary responsibility with the projects. As time moves on, she said, the board will need to figure out how to continue with the projects.
Member Sybil Lopez was “dumbfounded” that a transition plan was not already in the works. She said elections and nominations are also part of fiduciary responsibilities, and should not be left out in favor of a transition agenda.
“I’m not saying ‘don’t have election,’ I’m saying before we talk about it, there should be some board time put on the transition,” Corbiell said, adding that the thinks it’s “totally irresponsible” to put new people on the board when the EC should be working on bringing projects to a closure.
However, member Bridget Mowat disagreed, saying that fresh board members may take on some projects, and end up making the transition process easier.
Board member Russell Kallstrom proposed that private meetings be held, if necessary to speed up the process, since public notice must be given two weeks before public meetings.
The EC Board of Directors also discussed during last week’s meeting the restoration of Kalanianaole Hall and a tractor rental to taro farmers.
The EC acquired a tractor about a year ago, but it was non-productive because it had no insurance and no operator’s coverage. The tractor is finally in operation. The Ho`olehua Homestead Association is the custodian of the tractor, which can be rented by homesteaders and non-homesteaders.
The tractor rents out for $40 per hour, which board member Richard Cooke called a “great deal,” since it covers the operator and the five to six gallons per hour consumed. Mowat said the low price is supposed to make the tractor rent affordable to farmers.
However, Crivello said the EC may revisit costs because of fuel price increase.
Castle Adolpho and David Bush operate the tractor. Adolpho does maintenance work on it.
Kalanianaole Hall seems to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The building is owned by the Kaulana Na Pua group, which recently expired its lease to the land. Crivello said DHHL gave KAL a five-year lease of the land where the building is. “That will give us that much time at least to get (the building) restored,” Crivello said.
Crivello said the EC was allotted $55,000, and got $50,000 from OHA to initiate restorations of the building registered in the State Historic Sites. “We bought materials for the roof and were able to stabilize it,” she said. The money was also used to purchase a storage container, construction materials, and to hire an architect to look over the project.
Crivello said the architect and other experts concluded the building is in good shape, except for the back part, which is “sort of lop-sided.”
OHA also gave EC $500,000 to proceed with restorations. But Crivello said the actual costs may go up as high as $1 million.
Billy Akutagawa, from Friends of Kalanianaole Hall, is overseeing the project. Crivello said she got a report from Akutagawa, saying that a Maui contractor with expertise in restorations, Sandy Stein, is “quite impressed” with the building’s design. Crivello said Stein is willing to see how the project can stay within its budget.
Utilizing National Guard specialized work, such as plumbers and electricians, is a viable option to keep costs down, Crivello said.
Penny Martin wanted the Kalamaula Homestead Association to be in the lease together with the EC, Crivello said. But unfortunately the DHHL wants a single signatory. However, the homestead association will be in partnership with the EC in the restoration project.