Planning Commission Approves Parks and Rec Facility

Zoning changes unnecessary.

By Catherine Cluett

After a discussion that lasted over four hours, the Molokai Planning Commission unanimously approved a new baseyard facility for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The maintenance facility, to be located on Duke Maliu Regional Park, will house tools and equipment, as well as serve as a centralized office and work space for Parks and Recreation employees. “This is long over-due,” said County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation deputy director Zachary Helm.

Molokai Parks and Recreation operations are currently based in a small shed near the Mitchell Paoule Center. “That old building is an eye sore,” said resident Gladys Brown in her testimony in favor of the new facility.

Many employees are working out of the backs of their trucks because they lack adequate shop space. Their vehicles and equipment are parked outside in the MPC parking lot, creating a lack of public parking for events held at the Center, said Maui County council aide and Molokai resident Ella Alcon.

The Duke Maliu site is designated as park land in Molokai’s Community Plan, and it was previously believed that the area would have to be re-designated by the county as an urban zone in order for the project to proceed. But Nancy McPherson, Maui County’s on-island Molokai Planner, explained this change was found to be unnecessary. “While desirable as an implementation of the Molokai Community Plan, which designates the area as park, a zoning change is not mandatory in order to build the baseyard,” she said

The new facility is designed by Munekiyo and Hiraga, Inc., an architecture firm based in Wailuku. The Planning Commission was joined for the meeting by consultants who presented preliminary topographical, building, and landscape plans to the Commissioners.

“The Department of Parks and Rec has been planning this since 2005,” says Commission Chair Steven Chaikin. “The challenge is that the facility would be sandwiched between senior housing, a community kitchen, and little league baseball fields.”

Apprehension about noise control, voiced by the community in previous meetings, continued to be a concern of the Commissioners. The facility will be located adjacent to Home Pumehana, and equipment noise from the facility could be disruptive to elderly residents.

The building, however, will use sound-proof insulation and other design features to mitigate noise, and facility planners agreed to re-orient the building so its roll-up door will face away from Home Pumehana.

Flooding, which is common for the area, was also a concern. The facility designers assured Commissioners that adequate systems would be installed to control potential water problems.

Commissioner Lori Buchanan strongly recommended to project representatives that they hire an on-site archeologist when digging deeper than two feet during construction. Munekiyo and Hiraga, Inc. consultant Rowena Dagdag stated that the Historic Preservation Division had deemed the site not an area of concern, and that if any remains were found, all work would stop.

Commissioners’ conditions for project approval included a revised landscape plan and a facility gate to be locked during all non-operational hours as a public safety precaution.

Regulations governing jet ski use was another item of discussion, but its conclusion was deferred until the next meeting. “It’s a matter of recreation versus food,” said Molokai resident Judy Caparida during a brief public testimony about the issue.

The next Molokai Planning Commission meeting will be held on October 8 at 12:30 pm at MPC.

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