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OHA gets grants to study Kakaako lands

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:39 a.m. HST, May 9, 2013

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is receiving $400,000 in federal grants to look for petroleum and hazardous substances on several former industrial sites in Kakaako that are among land parcels the state gave the agency to settle a ceded land claim.

The grants will be used to determine what cleanup work will be needed at six parcels, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The land is among 30 acres of waterfront property worth about $200 million. The state gave the land to the agency last year.

In exchange for the parcels, which are near downtown Honolulu and the Ward shopping area, OHA agreed to waive decades-old claims it had to money generated on land once owned by the Hawaiian monarchy. The monarchy lands house the Honolulu airport, state hospital, public housing projects and other facilities.

The grants are from an EPA fund for brownfields, which are former industrial sites contaminated by pollutants.

Some of the six parcels once housed a garbage incinerator and auto repair shop. Others are still home to a shipyard, office buildings and a marine research laboratory.

The EPA says the grants provide communities with funds to assess, cleanup and redevelop contaminated properties. The grants aim to boost local economies while protecting public health and the environment.

OHA received a total of 10 parcels in its settlement with the state. Trustees have said they expect the parcels — collectively called Kakaako Makai — to be part of the land base for a new Hawaiian nation.

The agency has said the lands will provide revenue for programs benefiting Native Hawaiians, including college scholarships, cultural events and efforts to preserve Hawaiian culture.

OHA says it will abide by the guiding principles of a master plan developed for the Kakaako area. The plan calls for open space, gathering places and shoreline access.

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