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State agency wants Mauna Kea observatories to pay more rent

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A tour group approached the telescopes atop Mauna Kea while Pable McLoud, right, Senior Interpretive Guide at the Visitor Information Station, spoke during a media preview of the Kamaaina Observatory Experience on Jan. 12.

HILO » The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is calling on the state to raise the rent for observatories on Mauna Kea.

Bills introduced on behalf of OHA in the state House and Senate say the University of Hawaii, which holds a master lease for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, has “failed to charge sufficient sublease rent” for the observatories.

The legislation would require the university to set its lease payments based on environmental damage, impact to Native Hawaiians and administration of its management plan, among other factors, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Observatories on the mountain are only charged $1 a year and non-monetary contributions, such as observing time for UH, are also acceptable.

The exception to the deal is the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, which is paying $300,000 a year for its sublease. That amount is expected to increase to over $1 million in the next decade if the telescope is built.

The telescopes on the mountain also cover the cost of the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station and maintenance on the summit access road.

UH officials have said that any new subleases will cover additional costs related to managing the mountain.

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  • Another example of Governor Ige’s ignorance. Shut the telescope project down that pays the MOST rent!!! GREAT business decision Governor !!! Almost makes me want Governor Napoleon Abercrombie back !! At least, he knew who put furukake on his rice !!

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