The Hawaii State Judiciary joined its partners in a traditional Hawaiian groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex. About 200 people gathered under a white tent at the future site of the courthouse, which is a 10-acre site in Keahuolu, North Kona, above the beautiful Kona coastline.
The dedication included the traditional pikai (ritual sprinkling of salted waters) with accompanying pule kahea (Hawaiian prayer chants) to sanctify the premises. Kahu Daniel Akaka said a special prayer for the leaders involved in this project as well as the workers who will be involved in the construction of the new courthouse.
The Kona Judiciary Complex will meet the critical needs of the West Hawaii community and provide improved access to the civil, criminal, and family court justice system. Currently, proceedings are held in three different locations in Kona, in buildings not designed to serve as courtrooms.
“This is a momentous day for me, both professionally and personally,” said Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra. “I was born in the courthouse where I work today—it used to be the Old Kona Hospital. But the building is more than 75 years old and we need to be able to provide the infrastructure to deliver justice for generations to come. This groundbreaking symbolizes the future, while bringing with us the solid foundation we have built thus far.”
The Hawaii State Judiciary thanked the legislature for appropriating the $90 million needed to construct the building, which will enable the Judiciary to provide the West Hawaii community with a secure, efficient, and modern court facility that will accommodate the area’s projected growth in population and court caseload.
The 140,000 square foot complex will be a three-story facility with five courtrooms, a law library, self-help center, conference rooms, holding cells, witness rooms, attorney interview rooms, and a grand jury meeting room. The design includes space for future expansion or courtroom additions. Plans also provide 290 parking stalls for public and employee vehicles.
“This would not be possible without the support of the Legislature and Governor David Ige,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “I’d like to especially recognize the leadership of Representative Sylvia Luke and the members of House Committee on Finance; Senator Jill Tokuda and the members of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran and the members of Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor; and Representative Karl Rhoads and the members of the House Committee on Judiciary. I would also like to acknowledge the deep commitment and enormous efforts of Representative Nicole Lowen, Senator Josh Green, the late Senator Gil Kahele, and all the Big Island legislators. These partners were key to providing this much needed courthouse to the people of West Hawaii. Because of their commitment, the people of West Hawaii will have a courthouse that will support our justice system in this community for many, many years to come.”
“On behalf of Governor David Ige, I extend my appreciation to all those who made this project possible,” said Susan Kim, the Governor’s West Hawaii representative. “This area outgrew the Judiciary facilities long ago, and today we celebrate the start of construction on a new courthouse, one that will have the capacity to serve the current and future needs of the people of West Hawaii.”
Rep. Nicole Lowen said, “Since my first day in office, a new Kona Courthouse has been on the top of my priority list. This ceremony represents many years of work and advocacy from the community, from the judiciary, and from myself and my colleagues, and we are all so pleased to see construction finally beginning today. With the growing population here in West Hawaii, a modern, safe, centralized courthouse facility is long overdue.”
Senator Josh Green said, “This is a very special day for all of us. This project has been among my highest priorities and is critical for my community. The jobs that will be created will be a game changer for Kona in addition to how it will help with public safety.”
“I am very pleased that construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex is moving forward,” said Representative Joy San Buenaventura. “This courthouse will ensure that the Judiciary can fulfill its mission of providing justice for the West Hawaii community in a secure and efficient venue.”
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald also thanked members of the bar for supporting this effort, including the West Hawaii Bar Association, the Hawaii County Bar Association, and the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA). “I appreciate the support of past and present bar presidents and executive directors who have supported this project over the years.”
Administrative Director of the Courts Rodney Maile expressed appreciation for the continued support of Hawaii County, including: Hawaii County Administration and leadership; Hawaii County Council; Prosecuting Attorney, Mitchell Roth; and the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. He also thanked the Department of Accounting and General Service (DAGS) for diligently overseeing the project and contract.
“We are committed to delivering this project on time and on budget,” said Frank Oshiro, Vice President of Operations at Nan Inc. “We have a great team of professionals working on this project and we look forward to standing in this same area in 2019 and blessing a brand new courthouse.”
The new complex was designed by Architects Hawaii with the goal of keeping the building’s architecture consistent with the West Hawaii community. In December 2014, Architects Hawaii invited the public to view the preliminary renderings and design plans and solicited its input and feedback. The interior design will reflect local culture, landscape, and values. The building is also designed to be water, energy, and environmentally efficient and sustainable. Please click on this link to view the design plans and renderings.
The Notice to Proceed (NTP) will be formally issued on October 28, 2016, signaling the official start of construction. Nan Inc. is the general contractor and Rider Levett Bucknall was selected to support Construction Management on this project. Construction is expected to be complete in 2019.
A special thanks for today’s program goes to Nan Inc., Kealakehe High School, Lai Opua Community Center, and all those on the planning committee who made this event possible.
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