CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer
LIHU’E — Office of Economic Development administrator Gini Kapali is
scrambling to get the Kaua’i Resource Exchange Facility opened by July—four
years after the original completion date.
On Wednesday, the County Council
approved Kapali’s request for authorization to apply for a $50,000 grant from
the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to
facilitate the start-up of the facility.
Kapali told the Council the Clean
Hawaii Center grant would enable the OED to hire a staff person to prepare a
KREF operational plan, a business and market development training program, a
marketing plan, and a community education plan. The work is to be completed in
Kapali said by bringing a staff person on board, the OED will be
able to gather data and draft a business plan.
“We don’t have any
information on the potential diversion from the landfill that may be
generated,” she said, “and we need this data to have some idea as to the level
of operation that can be expected.”
This is not the first attempt OED has
made to get the beleaguered facility operating. Originally scheduled for
completion in June of 1996, the county received nine project completion
extensions from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development
Administration over the past four years.
In 1992, EDA awarded the county
$2.2 million to construct the recycling facility with the understanding that
the county would shepherd the operation of the facility into a self-sufficient
reuse-related entrepreneurial and employment opportunity for the residents of
That has not happened.
Two separate Request for Proposals
issued from OED were unsuccessful in attracting any private contractors to
operate the facility. The second request did not even generate a single
So Kapali’s office will assume responsibility for the facility
rather than be faced with having to reimburse the federal government, at least
in part, for the $2.2 million grant.
Kapali stressed to the Council that
the OED’s participation is for the initial start up of the operation of the
KREF and not intended to become an ongoing program.
She said direct
oversight for the facility will be provided by the Department of Public Works
as part of the county’s integrated solid waste management plan.
offered no guarantees to the Council that the plan OED is proposing would
result in a successful long- term self-sufficient facility. But she said a
full-time staff person, paid from the grant funds and tasked with moving the
project along will, at least, see if a resource exchange center as originally
conceived is feasible.
A report prepared by OED staff specialist Greg
Sakaguchi stressed that economic development from the KREF may not be realistic
and any effort to make the facility successful would require “a substantial
investment in public education and awareness.”
Sakaguchi said that two
significant challenges to the project’s success are stimulating a constant
level of supply of material that would come into the facility from vendors, and
the other side is a consistent level of demand for their products.
located on Ahukini Road next to the Lihu’e Transfer Station.