County goes airborne in search of landfill site that’s ‘population-friendly’

County officials rented a helicopter recently to search for potential new sites away from neighborhoods for a county landfill.

According to Wallace G. Rezentes, Sr., administrative assistant to Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, the administration is looking for a few potential landfill sites that are likely to be “population-friendly.”

The county heard loud and clear at public meetings that the Hanama’ulu community doesn’t want the new landfill to be situated behind Kalepa Ridge not far from mauka Hanama’ulu residential development.

That had been a site preferred by the county.

“Based on the reaction we’ve had, we’re almost forced to look elsewhere,” Rezentes said. “We are surely encouraged to look elsewhere. We are trying to keep our promises,” said Rezentes of assurances the county made at public meetings that it would examine other potential landfill sites.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Kalepa site has been withdrawn from consideration as a landfill site, he stressed.

Troy Tanigawa, the county’s solid waste coordinator, is in the process of putting together a preliminary internal analysis of the sites identified when he, Rezentes and Allan Smith of Grove Farm went airborne recently in search of potential landfill sites, Rezentes said.

Rather than study each site, the idea is to come up with one or two potential sites that might win public acceptance, and schedule a public meeting on those sites, Rezentes said.

“We’re hoping to locate the landfill away from neighborhoods,” he added.

Smith was along for the ride because he knows the areas, and because a few of the potential sites are on either Grove Farm or Lihue Land Company property, Rezentes said.

Both Grove Farm and Lihue Land Company are owned by Steve Case, founder of America Online (AOL).

The men studied maps before, during and after the flight, to make sure any site meets strict criteria for siting landfills away from ground and underground water sources and other features.

While the county has yet to decide on a long-term method of handling the island’s solid waste, government understands a new landfill is critical, with the Kekaha Sanitary Landfill filling up fast, and a new landfill necessary to handle at least the garbage that is not able to be accommodated by any long-term disposal method.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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