County Council backs plans to expand 2 Big Island parks


The Hawaii County Council took a step toward expanding Ahalanui Park in Puna and Kipapa Park in North Kona earlier this week.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved two resolutions authorizing the county to seek acquisition of parcels adjacent to the parks through the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation fund.

If the purchases are negotiated, the move would add about 12.8 acres to the county’s inventory of public land.

In its 2013 report, the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission said the lands could be used to expand the parks.

Ahalanui Park includes a hot pond. Kipapa Park is mauka of White Sands Beach Park.

Council heard from supporters and opponents of expanding Ahalanui Park during public testimony.

“We don’t need more land down there, we need bathrooms,” said Toby Hazel.

Rene Siracusa spoke in support.

“Puna is way behind in terms of infrastructure,” she said.

The commission ranked the property adjacent to Ahalanui Park as No. 13 and property adjacent to Kipapa Park as No. 10 on its prioritized list of lands to acquire for public access.

The land adjacent to Kipapa Park is about 10.77 acres.

The report lists anticipated uses as expansion of the park, including public outdoor recreation and education.

The expansion would turn the recently acquired park into a “combined 15-acre recreation area suitable for walking, biking, jogging, picnics and parking,” the report says. A council resolution says the park would be expanded to 16.8 acres.

The report also notes the property hosts documented ancient habitation, agriculture, ceremonial and burial sites, which could be used for education. The document says a purchase could act as a buffer between development and those areas.

According to the report, the property was listed for sale at $2.75 million but was taken off the market. A French bank, BNP Paribas, acquired it through foreclosure in 2012.

Neither of the two parcels that make up the land had tax assessments listed on the county’s Real Property Tax Office’s website.

The property was approved for a 120-unit condominium.

The 2.045-acre property next to Ahalanui Park includes a small sand beach, according to the commission’s report.

It also includes a historical area with “rock walls of significance,” the report says.

The property is assessed at $401,400.

Stephens Media Hawaii reporter Nancy Cook-Lauer contributed to this report.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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