Project Faith meeting set in North Carolina

Hawaiian community leader and businessman James Torio plans to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a conference hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from Nov. 12-15.

Torio said he plans to meet with federal officials to discuss the development of “Project Faith,” a proposed $16-million cultural and business center in Anahola that will serve Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians.

The project would help preserve the Hawaiian culture and allow Hawaiians to become economically self-sufficient, says the Anahola Homesteaders Council. The citizens group, led by Torio, has taken the lead in the project.

The project is intended to create jobs, allow Hawaiians to run their own businesses and provide space for education and training, housing for kupuna, healthcare, human services and recreation.

The conference will be sponsored by the International City/County Management Association for EPA’s Brownfields Economic Development Initiative, a nationwide project to revitalize properties with environmental contamination.

“We are going to look at ways of telling the EPA what our problems are and how we can develop loan programs, make land improvements and use the state and county as partners,” Torio said.

Torio said the board of the Hawaiian Home Lands last month approved a 30-year license to Anahola Homesteaders to develop Project Faith on 20 acres. As part of the license, Anahola Homesteaders will be allowed to maintain another 6.2 acres, Torio said.

The 20-acre site was selected as a Brownfields project because it contains 800 abandoned automobiles and is littered with tires, batteries and household goods.

The site also is believed to contain pesticides from cane cultivation on the land and petroleum products that seeped into the ground from the vehicles.

Anahola Homesteaders will most likely work with EPA to secure cleanup funds before work on Project Faith begins, Torio said.

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