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Business Community to Host Meeting on Legislative Efforts to Revitalize Hilo and Banyan Drive

On Tuesday, January 31, a coalition of individuals and organizations focused on improving the East Hawaii economy will hold a community meeting to discuss legislative efforts that will guide in the revitalization of Hilo and Banyan Drive.

The coalition includes Kanoelehua Industrial Association (KIAA), Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hawaii (JCCIH) and Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB).

The public is invited to attend and hear from coalition representatives and area legislators on the various, proposed economic development measures that have been introduced this legislative session (see full list below). The measures are aimed at providing much-needed tools and mechanisms to attract investment and foster partnerships that will help revitalize the local economy while promoting a healthy environment where East Hawaii families can thrive.

  • When: Tuesday, January 31
  • Time: 4:30–5:30pm
  • Location: Hawaii Innovation Center, 117 Keawe Street in Hilo, Room #105 (corner of Keawe and Kalakaua Streets)
  • Parking: Street parking only

After the community meeting, the coalition will work with the public and the Hawaii Island delegation to advocate for the various proposed measures (full list and descriptions below, with links to download bills).

The coalition thanks the hard working East Hawaii Caucus that introduced the bills: Representative Mark Nakashima, Representative Richard Onishi, Representative Joy San Buenaventura, Representative Christopher Todd, Senator Lorraine Inouye, Senator Kaialii Kahele, and Senator Russell Ruderman

List of 2017 29th Legislature bills promoting East Hawaii’s economic interests introduced by members of the East Hawaii caucus:

HB 575 / SB 274 – Authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to extend state land leases when the lessee makes qualifying substantial improvements to leased public lands. Download HB 575, SB 274.

HB 1310 / SB 1184 – Establishes the Waiakea Peninsula Redevelopment District, Planning Committee, and Revolving Fund. Download HB 1310, SB 1184. 

HB 1469 / SB 1185 – Establishes procedures for designating public land redevelopment districts, planning committees (including powers and duties), district redevelopment plans, and designated revolving funds. Modifies public land lease restrictions. Download HB 1469, SB 1185.

HB 1479 / SB 1292 – Establishes the Hilo community economic district and places it under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Establishes a revolving economic development fund and designates a percentage to be transferred to the special land and development fund under the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Download HB 1479, SB 1292.

DLNR Holds Public Meetings on Banyan Drive and Kanoelehua Industrial Area Future Plans

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will hold public meetings this month in Hilo to provide information on studies it has commissioned to assist with the Department’s planning for the future of these areas as current leases expire.

Banyan Drive

DLNR leases out state-owned lands in Hilo, Hawai‘i at Banyan Drive and in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area. Revenue from these leases supports important DLNR programs, including those conducted by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Division of State Parks, Engineering Division, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, and Commission on Water Resource Management.

One of the leases at Banyan Drive has expired and has been placed on a month-to-month revocable permit. Other leases at Banyan Drive and in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area will expire in the next several years.

The public meeting will include a brief presentation on the studies and members of the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.  The studies are available on the DLNR Land Division website at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ld/kanoelehua-and-banyan-drive-studies/  for public review and comment:

Banyan Drive

Goal: Support the Banyan Drive Working Group’s efforts to address the future of Banyan Drive
Objective: Obtain an understanding of conditions, limitations and opportunities for the formulation of revitalization strategies
  • Tourism Market Study – To analyze the tourism industry and determine market demand for a new hotel in Hilo.
  • Sea Level Rise Assessment – To assess sea level rise effects on Banyan Drive parcels.
  • Master Lease Feasibility Analysis – To investigate the feasibility of placing management of Reed’s Bay Hotel, Country Club Condominium, and Uncle Billy’s Hotel under a single master lease.

Kanoelehua Industrial Area

Goal: Improve management effectiveness of DLNR’s Kanoelehua lands
Objective: Obtain an understanding of conditions, limitations and opportunities for the effective management of DLNR’s Kanoelehua lands
  • Market Study – To determine market demand for industrial-commercial uses in the Hilo region for the near- and long-term.
  • Lot Consolidation Analysis – To identify opportunities for consolidating/resubdividing lots to maximize functionality and value for DLNR.
  • Master Lease Feasibility Analysis – To investigate the feasibility and desirability of placing management of DLNR’s Kanoelehua properties under a single master lease.

Both meetings will be held at:

County of Hawai‘i
Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi Street, Suite 1
Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720

  • Kanoelehua Industrial Area – January 15, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Banyan Drive – January 15, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.

Anyone who is unable to attend the meeting, may download a comment form from the website and send in written comments to the following address.  Please provide your comments by February 1, 2016.

Mail comments to:

Munekiyo Hiraga
KANOELEHUA/BANYAN DRIVE COMMENTS
305 High Street, Suite 104
Wailuku, Hawai‘i 96793

Mayor Kenoi Testifies Before State Land Board Regarding Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi testified before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources today in Honolulu, urging the board to firmly enforce the lease terms and give no special consideration to the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort.

Naniloa
Below is Mayor Kenoi’s testimony:

September 13, 2013

Honorable William J. Aila Jr., Chair and Members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources

Re: Agenda Item D-10, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 12-02279 and General Lease Nos. S-5844 and S-5372 to Hawaii Outdoor Tours Inc.

Aloha Chair Aila and Board Members:
 
Thank you for this opportunity to express our deep concern with the deteriorating situation at the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. Banyan Drive has traditionally been the hub of East Hawai‘i’s resort activity, which makes it critically important to the economy of the Island of Hawai‘i. The Banyan Drive properties should be an economic engine and a job creator that provides benefits to our working families. The Naniloa property is a crucial component of this area, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has failed to ensure this property is properly managed for the benefit of our state and our community.
 
Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours Inc. has now held the lease for the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort and the Banyan Drive golf course for more than seven years, and the result has been a disaster for East Hawai‘i. The Kilauea Tower of the resort has been gutted and empty for years, and the property is in a shambles. Valuable retail space on the grounds of the resort that could be contributing to the local economy and generating jobs is vacant and closed. Despite the lessee’s well-publicized promises to restore the area as a top- quality destination, a lounge adjoining the hotel is usually closed, and the pool on the Banyan Drive side of the property has been drained. Only a fraction of the rooms in the Naniloa have actually been renovated. Since much of the hotel is empty, the facility operates with minimal staff.
 
Many of our East Hawai‘i residents are traveling 100 miles to work at jobs in Kona and the Kohala Coast resort areas, while the once-beautiful 391-room Naniloa property is deteriorating in Hilo. Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours has been given ample opportunity over the last seven years to restore the property, and we cannot continue to stand by while a single hotel operator holds an entire community economic hostage.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources has failed to enforce the terms of its lease with Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours. To give a few examples, this lessee failed to maintain the $1 million performance bond required by the lease. This lessee previously failed to stay current on the lease rent, and was issued notices of default. This lessee filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago, yet the lease specifically allows for termination “if the Lessee shall become bankrupt.”
 
Our greatest concern is the manner in which this lessee allowed the historic Naniloa property to dramatically deteriorate despite clear language in the lease that requires the lessee to “keep, repair, and maintain all buildings and improvements…on the premises in good order, condition and repair….”
 
On Aug. 1, this lessee failed to make the required semi-annual rent payment, and was granted an extension. Now this board is being asked for another extension to delay this required payment to the end of the year.
 
For the good of our working families and the business climate in all of East Hawai‘i, we respectfully urge the Board of Land and Natural Resources to firmly enforce the terms of lease S-5844. No special consideration should be given to lessee Hawai‘i Outdoor Tours or to First Citizens Bank, which is the lien holder in this case. If the current lessee or the lien holder cannot meet such basic requirements as paying the required ground lease rent or maintaining construction or performance bonds to protect state interests, then the board should declare the lessee in default and move to terminate the lease.
 
This department has collected millions of dollars in ground lease rents from the Banyan Drive tenants over the years. At a minimum, DLNR has an obligation to actively manage the Banyan Drive leases to assure those properties are properly maintained and operated by tenants who comply with the terms of their leases. This will create jobs, boost the Hawai‘i Island economy, increase state transient accommodation and excise tax collections, and eventually result in increased lease rent collections for the DLNR.
 
The land board must address these problems head-on, and clear the way for prompt restoration of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. We need action now.
 
Thank you for your consideration.
 
Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

 

Big Island Police Charge Hilo Man Who Was Wanted in Connection With Robbery of Taxi Driver

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested and charged 31-year-old Bernard K. Antoque, who was wanted in connection with the robbery of a taxi driver in Hilo.

Bernard K. Antoque

Bernard K. Antoque

Antoque, who has no permanent address, was arrested Thursday evening (April 11) on suspicion of robbery and held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

At 3:40 p.m. Friday (April 12), after conferring with prosecutors, detectives charged him with first-degree terroristic threatening, third-degree theft and fourth-degree theft. His bail was set at $37,000. He remains at the cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Monday (April 15).

On April 6, at 10:07 a.m., police received a report from a 59-year-old taxi driver that after he picked up a fare in the Banyan Drive area, he transported him to the Mountain View area in Puna. The fare claimed he did not have money to pay for the ride and asked to be taken to another location. After the driver refused, the fare assaulted and threatened the driver and took the driver’s bag containing cash. The driver forced the fare out of the cab and drove to Keaʻau to report the robbery to police.

The victim was initially treated by Hawaiʻi Fire Department medics. He was later treated at Hilo Medical Center for minor injuries and released.

 

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 46-Year-Old Hilo Man

7/10/12 UPDATE: Police have located 46-year-old Anthony Pruett, who was reported missing. He was found unharmed in Hilo on July 7.

Police seek the public’s assistance in locating missing person Anthony Pruett, Male 46, of Hilo.

Anthony Pruett

Pruett has fair complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, 5’5”, medium built, and may be in need of medical attention. He operates a red moped with checked front fender, and is known to hang out in the Banyan Drive area. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact the police.

Reed’s Bay Beach Park Re-Opens

A thoroughly renovated Reed’s Bay Beach Park was officially reopened Saturday morning during a blessing ceremony that attracted about 100 park users, dignitaries and passers-by to the popular Hilo facility. Mayor Billy Kenoi joined other elected officials in welcoming people back to the Banyan Drive park, upgraded for safety and accessibility.

An improved Reed’s Bay Beach Park on Hilo’s Banyan Drive welcomes families.

Comprising slightly more than four acres and located within walking distance of downtown Hilo, Reed’s Bay Beach Park offers safe access for swimmers, fishermen and boaters with authorized moorings in the bay. The park includes mature trees for shade, grassy areas for play and a protected bay for use by keiki and kupuna alike. Parking is provided at an adjacent 2.3 acre lot.

During a Hawaiian blessing ceremony, Kumu Kimo Awai told the story of a family whose young child once wandered into ocean and was at risk of drowning, when a force – a large school of small fish called ‘oama – guided the keiki safely back to shore. Today, the park continues this history of being a safe place for our keiki.

Kumu Kimo Awai performed a Hawaiian blessing ceremony before dignitaries, descendants of the bay’s namesake William Reed, and members of the Keaukaha community untied the maile lei signifying the opening of the park.

Reed’s Bay Beach Park is “a place that celebrates family and protects our children and is a pu‘uhonua, a safe haven for our families that actually protects our children from drugs, and from gangs and from violence,” Mayor Kenoi said after joining dignitaries and members of the Keaukaha community in untying the maile lei to signify the reopening of the park.

Reed’s Bay is named after William H. Reed. Born in 1814 Belfast, Ireland, Reed was a businessman who bought Reed’s Island in 1861 and built the first commercial bridge over the Wailuku River. He also created Reed’s Landing, which he used to moor boats carrying lumber for one of his businesses.

Remembering how as a child he played at the park with his parents, Mayor Kenoi thanked contractor Nan Inc., the Department of Parks and Recreation staff, members of the Reed family, and Bill Walter, CEO and president of W.H. Shipman Ltd., which was founded by Reed’s stepson.

Reed’s Bay Beach Park now features concrete walkways complete with integrated seat walls, outdoor showers, drinking fountain and landscaping. Future plans call for picnic tables and additional landscaping to be added this summer as part of an Eagle Scout project.

Leonard Bisel of Leonard Bisel and Associates designed the improvements, while Nan Inc. performed much of the work under a $690,763 contract. With the help of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawai‘i County obtained a $248,525 federal grant that was used to pay more than one-third of the contract cost, thereby reducing the financial burden on local taxpayers.

Assisting with the project were Department of Parks and Recreation personnel, who installed the showers, poured concrete footings, trimmed trees, spread sand, and performed other work.

The project represents teamwork and partnership with the federal and state governments, Parks & Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald told audience members. He called the project “a great example of laulima – what we can all do together.”

Sen. Inouye issued a statement read by his field representative, Delbert Nishimoto. Sen. Inouye praised Mayor Kenoi and his administration for delivering projects that improve Hawai‘i County and add to the island’s beauty.

State Sen. Gilbert Kahele, state Rep. Mark Nakashima and Puna Councilman Fred Blas also each spoke at the reopening ceremony. “It’s nice to come down from Puna and see a beautiful place like this,” Councilman Blas said.

The newly renovated Reed’s Bay Beach Park continues a vision then-Gov. John Burns started for the Banyan Drive area in 1969, Sen. Kahele said. “Banyan Drive is a wonderful place. I played here as a child, and I enjoyed the ocean.”

Mayor Kenoi announced that a second phase improvements at Reed’s Bay Beach Park, to include a comfort station, will start in August, to avoid impacting summer use of the park, and be finished by year’s end.

For safety reasons, the sand along the park’s shoreline is no longer accessible to motor vehicles, although boat owners with approved moorings in the bay may continue to launch and retrieve their vessels.

East Hawaii Community Development District Bill Deferred

Rep. Jerry Chang (South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha), as Chair of the House Water, Land & Ocean Resources Committee, decided to defer House Bill 2366, relating to the establishment of the East Hawaii Community Development District.  Rep Chang cited strong opposition to the bill that he introduced.

“There is no doubt that the Banyan Drive and Kanoelehua industrial area in Hilo are in dire need of renewal, renovation, and improvement,” said Rep. Chang.  “However, House Bill 2366 is not the best vehicle to address the problem. The authority to construct, improve, renovate, and revitalize areas within Hawaii County are already authorized under State and County statutes.”

The current title holder of the land in question, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, stated that it would prefer to develop the land under the Public Land Development Corporation.

“The attention generated through the introduction of this bill sends a strong signal to DLNR that now is the time to take action and to revitalize this area that is so critical to the Hilo economy,” added Rep. Chang.

Reeds Bay Closed Until the New Year for Construction Activities

The County of Hawaii, Department of Parks & Recreation announces the closing of Reeds Bay Beach Park from Monday, Aug. 29, through Dec. 31, 2011 for construction activities.  The park improvements will include new accessible walkways with integrated seat walls; grassing and landscaping; and new park amenities such as outdoor showers, a drinking fountain and picnic tables.

Reeds Bay off Banyan Drive

The adjacent graveled parking area and shoreline will remain open to the public though construction activities may impact that area as well from time to time.  For boaters moored in Reed’s Bay that require access during this closure, the contractor is required to accommodate launching and retrieval of your watercraft subject to the location and progress of their work.  All other recreational boaters (kayakers, paddle boarders, beachgoers, etc.) are required to use a different venue for their recreational activities such as the nearby Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Park or Hilo Bayfront Beach Park.

The department apologizes for any inconvenience this temporary closure may cause and thanks the public in advance for their cooperation as we strive to improve our community for the benefit of all.

Hawaii County Puts Historic Banyan on Chopping Block

Editorial By Sydney Ross Singer:

There was a time, not long ago, when environmentalists protected trees from being cut down by developers. Now, trees need to be protected from environmentalists cutting them down.

A case in point is a beautiful, majestic banyan tree that graces Reed’s Bay Beach Park, in Hilo. This area of Hilo boasts numerous banyan trees, many named after famous people and planted over 70 years ago in their honor. In 1934, Princess Kawananakoa planted a banyan here. In fact, the street these are on is called Banyan Drive.

This particular banyan can be seen as you enter Banyan drive, and is the centerpiece of Reeds Bay Park. This tree should be listed as one of the most beautiful banyan specimens, indeed one of the most beautiful trees of any kind. The size of a three story house, it offers needed shade, its roots keep the shoreline intact, and it creates a magical, almost mystical ambiance that delights residents and tourists. Planted in the 1930’s, it has survived four tsunamis…

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Banyan Drive Removed From OHA Settlement

I just got the following Tweet from Nancy Cook Lauer:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=banyan+drive+hilo&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.489543,56.601563&ie=UTF8&t=h&s=AARTsJr-iBUJZkazckHZhcm4yiu1TICn7g&ll=19.726877,-155.065241&spn=0.014139,0.018239&z=15&iwloc=addr&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Hawaiian Affairs hearing ends with plans to remove lucrative Hilo Banyan Drive property from OHA settlement agreement. Vote on Wednesday.