POSTED: 12:03 p.m. HST, Apr 8, 2014
HILO >> Waipio Valley residents gathered to voice their opinions about a bill that could create an avenue for the purchase of land from the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.
State Senate bill SB 3063 also would establish a temporary working group to address the future of the area.
More than 100 people gathered in Honokaa on Sunday to discuss the bill that was approved by the state House committees on finance last week, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://is.gd/GZpw3E) reported.
Rep. Mark Nakashima, a Democrat representing the area, led the discussion at the meeting where people questioned how the sale of land to the state would affect residents who currently lease property for farming and cultural and educational programs.
People said they want valley residents to join the proposed working group that also would address preservation issues.
Nakashima said the bill stems from House Bill 414, which he formulated to develop a working group, since discussion about Bishop Museum selling its parcels of land has been in the works for a while.
"We're doing everything we can to keep Waipio Valley how it is today and preserve the land," Nakashima said. "What I had envisioned is to get the community together to talk about how much we might move forward in this process."
Many of the people present at the meeting said they hadn't heard of the Senate bill until it went to the House. People voiced concerns that the bill progressed before community input was sought.
"The intentions are good, but in some ways backwards," said Jim Cain, a taro farmer. "But that's OK, we're not going backwards, we're going forward."