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Big Island ‘peace park’ plan opposed by telescope protesters

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim’s plan for a Mauna Kea cultural park is facing strong opposition from Thirty Meter Telescope protesters.

Kim sees the potential park on the mountain as being a symbol of peace, in addition to a place to celebrate the pursuit of knowledge, Hawaiian culture and the cosmopolitan makeup of Hawaii’s people, he said. Opponents believe the park would be a further desecration of the mountain.

“Mismanagement of the mountain is really the issue,” Kailua-Kona resident Kahookahi Kanuha said. “This would be a continuation of it.”

Most of the mountain, which is home to 13 telescopes and the site of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, is managed by the University of Hawaii under a master lease with the state. Kim suggested this change, saying there needs to be a new governing body for Hawaii’s tallest peak.

“You were wronged,” Kim told the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees. “The university did a poor job of management. We all need to get better. I felt Mauna Kea could be an international monument for the aboriginal people of Australia, for the indigenous people all over the world.”

Kim also believes astronomy fits in with the park’s vision, he said. But he didn’t explain how the embattled telescope project would fit into the park’s plan.

The opposition urged trustees to reject Kim’s proposal of the park if it will allow for construction of the $1.4 billion telescope.

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