By Trustee Rowena Akana
Source Honolulu Advertiser Letter to the Editor
I appreciated Vicky Viotti’s July 29th article regarding the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) $342,000 grant request to OHA for the purchase of a 70-acre parcel at Mu’olea Point on Maui. While she did an excellent job of summarizing the discussion, I would like to add a few points.
It is outrageous that TPL would request money from OHA, monies that are to be spent for the betterment of Hawaiians, so that they can purchase land and hand it over to the County of Maui. Why should OHA help pay for land that Hawaiians will never own?
The State of Hawaii and the County of Maui are derelict in their responsibility to protect and preserve the lands at Mu’olea Point. If the Hana community truly feels that the site is so important, why doesn’t the County of Maui condemn the land using their power of eminent domain?
The County of Maui has the power to seize the property for public use if they can prove that doing so will serve the public good. Cities across the country have been using eminent domain to buy private property at a fair market value so that they can build roads, schools, and even courthouses. That’s what the City & County of Honolulu did when it purchased Waimea Falls Park.
I believe OHA trustee Linda Dela Cruz made an excellent point at the Board table that in the past, many organizations have used a connection to Hawaiians to push various proposals and developments through but, after the dust settled, how many Hawaiians really benefited?
TPL has argued that there are many culturally significant Hawaiian sites on the property but, in the end, it is only the County of Maui that will truly benefit by acquiring the land. OHA has a fiduciary responsibility to all Hawaiians. I still don’t see how OHA giving $342,000 to TPL will truly benefit the Hawaiian community at large.
And let’s not forget that Hawaiians only receive 20% of the revenues from ceded lands. The State should think about using the 80% of ceded land revenues it takes to purchase and preserve the property. After all, it’s part of the State’s mandate.
There are many ways to save the Mu’olea Point property besides asking OHA for a bailout. The State needs to step up to the plate and the County of Maui needs to get more creative.
Also, our beneficiaries should know that the following trustees support giving $342,000 to TPL: Haunani Apoliona, Oswald Stender, Boyd Mossman, Dante Carpenter, and Colette Machado.