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Tuesday, September 02, 2014         

ISLAND VOICES


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Castle & Cooke should honor its pledge to Mililani Mauka

By Ernie Martin and Romy Cachola

POSTED:



At the heart of every dispute or disappointment you can usually find an unfulfilled expectation. We see examples of this in our home life, in the workplace and in our government. There were some unexpected upsets like Furlough Fridays that disrupted school schedules, and more current threats such as the proposed reduction in anticipated benefits for retirees.

The current community upset in Mililani Mauka is a prime example of unfulfilled expectations.

In 2008, the residents celebrated the completion of the last home to be built in their planned community.

Or so they thought.

Castle & Cooke had reserved a 7.5-acre parcel of land for the site of a performing arts center along with retail businesses. The community then began fundraising to build the Oahu Arts Center on the site. But due to a lagging economy, expectations of both the developer and the nonprofit were left unfulfilled.

Castle & Cooke eventually withdrew the parcel from consideration for an arts center and subsequently found a buyer who announced a plan for affordable housing on the site.

Residents loudly protested the increase in the number of homes and additional traffic congestion in the area. In an attempt to make the project more acceptable, the developer revised the plan as a senior housing project, lessening the impact on nearby schools and local traffic.

In spite of modifications to the project that swayed a majority of the neighborhood board members to approve the plan with certain conditions, many residents remain skeptical.

They have a right to be upset over the possibility of adding 300 housing units to their planned community.

And in spite of Castle & Cooke's claim that the sale was necessitated by a lack of interest in commercial development due to nearby big box outlets, there remains an obligation to help fulfill the community's expectation of a performing arts center.

At the outset of the planning process, Castle & Cooke's donation of the land was estimated to be worth $3 million. Today, Castle & Cooke intends to sell the parcel for $7 million.

Surely, there is room for one of Hawaii's oldest and most respected companies to stand on its reputation and deliver on its promise to the community.

With the current value of the property now more than double the worth of the original intended donation, it is not unreasonable for the community to expect Castle & Cooke to honor its commitment.

The proximity of its proposed Koa Ridge development to the Central Oahu Regional Park could propel its sponsorship of an arts center there as a possible substitute for the original proposal.

If the Mililani Mauka community, performing arts center advocates, Castle & Cooke and the Meheula Vista proponents expect a compromise, it just might happen.

Everyone contributes and everyone benefits. It's a win-win solution for all.

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Ernie Martin and Romy Cachola are Honolulu City Council members: Martin represents District 2 (Mililani Mauka, Haleiwa, Kaaawa, Ahuimanu) and Cachola, District 7 (Palama, Pearl Harbor, Salt Lake).






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