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UH regents approve lease for Thirty Meter Telescope

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 04:41 p.m. HST, Feb 20, 2014

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted 13-1 Thursday to approve a lease agreement for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project, clearing the way for the world's largest telescope to begin construction as planned in April atop Mauna Kea.

The decision came amid strong opposition from Native Hawaiian students and faculty of UH-Manoa, who testified Thursday against the project, describing the Hawaii island volcano as a sacred cultural site.

The board deliberated in executive session before discussing and voting on the agreement during the public portion of its monthly meeting. Student regent Jeffrey Acido was the only no vote and Maui regent Eugene Bal was not in attendance.

"I think we did something good for Hawaii. Mauna Kea is this huge, huge part of Hawaii and who we are as a people, and what we've done is allow it to be used for a very good purpose," regents Chairman John Holzman said after the meeting.

The sublease agreement provides about nine acres on the northern plateau below the summit on land UH leases from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The Land Board in April 2013 approved putting the project on Mauna Kea, but imposed two dozen conditions, including payment of a "substantial amount" of rent to be used solely for the management and stewardship of the mountain.

Construction is expected to start in April and be completed in 2022. Under the lease terms, the university will charge $1.08 million a year once the telescope is in operation. Rent will average $500,000 a year during the 10-year construction phase.

The lease would run through 2033, when UH's master lease for Mauna Kea lands expires, but the agreement would automatically extend the project's sublease to 65 years from the effective date if and when the state land board approves UH's pending request to enter into new 65-year leases.

The $1.3 billion project — a collaboration between California and Canadian universities and international scientists — is expected to create an estimated 300 temporary construction jobs and up to 140 permanent jobs.

The project's website says the cutting-edge telescope will be three times larger than the most powerful optical telescopes in use now, and allow astronomers to explore forming galaxies "at the very edge of the observable universe, near the beginning of time."

The regents agreed to the project in 2010. UH said executing the sublease would be the last step needed to allow construction to begin.

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Kuokoa wrote:
Hawaiians, stop living in the past!
on February 20,2014 | 11:37AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Hawaiians always considered Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa sacred. They are in many of their oli, chants.Those mountaiins were the first land masses that the voyagers from Nukuhiwa saw, drawing them to discover the most isolated islands in the world. And the first mountains seen by more Kanaka Maoli voyaging to their new land, the Maoli Nukuhiwa and Maohi Kahiki (Tahiti). Tahiti was also disicovered by seafarers from Nukuhiwa. The Maoli Nukuhiwa and Maohi Kahiki became Maoli Hawai'i, known today as Hawaiians. The Maoli Nukuhiwa seafarers who discovered the Hawaiian Islands were led by a chief named Hawai'i Loa. He was the first man to step foot on the first island that was discovered, and he named that island after himself. He also named the first mountains he saw, Mauna Kea (White Mountain), and Mauna Loa (Long Mountain).
on February 20,2014 | 06:21PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Where's Faye?
on February 20,2014 | 11:54AM
Upperkula wrote:
This is LOLO all this protesting for land that nobody can even use. A come on now get real, like Kuakoa said Hawaiians stop living in the past.
on February 20,2014 | 12:12PM
ryan02 wrote:
I hate when people try to force the government to follow their personal religion and other superstitions.
on February 20,2014 | 12:13PM
DiverDave wrote:
Yes ryan02, we know that all this mythology stuff was outlawed in 1819 by the King and so hasn't been a part of their "culture" for 200 years. It's really about racial supremacy. They think their race should have the last say on everything here in Hawaii. Political control, based on race. What would that make this bunch?
on February 20,2014 | 12:23PM
MoTown808 wrote:
DiverDave - If the government outlawed you (and your descendants) from posting ignorant online comments would you stop?

Even if you didn't stop, would my descendants 200 years later be able to say that your family was "legally" prevented from posting online (200 years earlier) and therefore have no right to do it today?
on February 20,2014 | 01:49PM
DRH wrote:
If it were 1819 and the King had outlawed that activity, you damn right I would. Other wise I would be killed.
on February 20,2014 | 11:54PM
islandsun wrote:
A token protest to stop education. Why don't they protest against some real political clowns.
on February 20,2014 | 12:54PM
BigIsandLava wrote:
It saddens me to see how people here do not understand or disrespects when someone voices their concerns about something that has cultural and spiritual values to them, belittling their values by simply stating to stop living in the past. This project's mission is based on science and education, yet many of the posters here does not seem educated enough to realize the cultural and spiritual importance and significance that Mauna Kea possesses towards the first inhabitants of these islands. People see the mountain and only sees the mountain. And there are those that see more than just a mountain, more than just a belief, more than just a culture, more than just a tradition, it's more about who I am.
on February 20,2014 | 01:52PM
The 1st inhabitants of this isle were not the Hawaiians. However, that being said, you do make some good points and everyone should respect the spiritual and cultural mana that people are brought up in whether your own or somebody elses.
on February 20,2014 | 02:20PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"The 1st inhabitants of this isle were not the Hawaiians" ........GONEGOLFIN .....GFY
on February 20,2014 | 06:33PM
Barefootie wrote:
Protesting anything for logical reasons is always a decent thing, but to protest based upon an outed and ousted religion is not, a good reason. There are no reasons why these protestors can't sit down and discuss this issue about the new scope on the mountain; especially when those protesting do not even make up 1% of the Hawaiian community population, let alone even .001% of the States populaton. The old gods of Hawaii were not against knowledge and progress, why are you?
on February 20,2014 | 01:55PM
Grimbold wrote:
They have aright to voice their protest. Does it make sense? As much as any religion, some declare books "holy" even if hocus pocus is written, some declare cows "holy", so people cannot eat them, others declare mountains "holy", so they demand that not be built on, some declare a wall holy and run to it to pray,Tibetans claim the ground is holy and there should be no mining ..etc. Whoever has the power prevails. In the western world reason usually wins over superstition - and that is where we live fortunately..
on February 20,2014 | 03:20PM
Tarakian wrote:
Hawaiian Sky God? I would challenge those Hawaiians and protestors. How many are Christians? Christians need to decide who is their Master and God? Is it the Hawaiian Gods? I believe this protest is guise in environmental and Hawaiian concerns when the main target is anything that is anti-corporation, anti-government, anti-business. Because the environmental and Hawaiian concerns are based on emotions and no rationale.
on February 20,2014 | 03:36PM
mayihavesumor wrote:
If the UH faculty and students who protested really wanted to make their point they would quit their jobs and give up their scholarships. That would show UH.
on February 20,2014 | 04:18PM
MoTown808 wrote:
How would that "show UH?"
on February 20,2014 | 10:17PM
Mythman wrote:
"Near the beginning of time"? Now, that's going to be quite a feat.
on February 20,2014 | 04:22PM
Hawaii5OhOh wrote:
For all those who protested against the telescope and still want to protect the aina, please protest vigorously against OHA when they try and build their three 400 foot residential towers on the makai side of Ala Moana Blvd in Kakaako. OHA is now lobbying the Legislature to change the 2006 law that forbids residential towers in this area, and they also want a waiver to build from 200 feet, to 400 feet high. As Joe Souki is a dependable crook and in the pockets of any developer, it is done deal for this to happen, but we must show the powers that be that the green space should be saved for all the people of Hawaii.
on February 20,2014 | 06:16PM
MoTown808 wrote:
Uncle Hawaii5OhOh - maybe you never understand that there are significant differences between developing Kakaako and placing telescopes on Mauna Kea. A greater number of the people of Hawaii will go to (and even live in) the developed Kakaako. Fewer people will go to Mauna Kea to use the telescopes.
on February 20,2014 | 10:16PM
Venus1 wrote:
I consider the telescope to be a Sacred Project in behalf of the human race! The Hawaiians can be proud to have the mountain used for learning about the universe!
on February 20,2014 | 08:01PM
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