Case wants $10 million back for Kikiaola harbor

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-2nd Congressional District, has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore $10 million that was “reprogrammed” from the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor repair project to fund nationwide emergency projects.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Steven L. Stockton, Deputy Director of Civil Works for the Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C., Case said he is now asking for the restoration of the funds because his request to the House Appropriations Committee for $14.5 million was not approved.

In the letter, Case said he hopes the Senate will include that amount in its legislative appropriation bill.

There is a meeting planned tonight in Waimea to discuss the funding for the project, and a member of case’s office is scheduled to be there. The meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Waimea High School cafeteria.

In response to Case’s letter, chief of public affairs Joseph Bonfiglio, of the Honolulu Engineer District office at Ft.

Shafter, wrote in an e-mail to The Garden Island yesterday that the federal agency was not able to use the $10 million allotted for the Kikiaola project because the project didn’t meet “standards and clearances” for the repair work.

Bonfiglio said an official who heads the Corps of Engineers office on O‘ahu will also comment on Case’s letter at a later date.

“We will include all options in formulating a response,” Bonfiglio said. “Our goal is to work in cooperation with our local sponsor and stakeholders to ensure that the best possible civil works project is constructed within funds available, while ensuring efficient use of taxpayers’ money.”

Richard Rice of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation said last week the 4.5-acre harbor has been filled with sand deposits, leaving boats vulnerable to high waves and possible damage.

Decisions by the Corps of Engineers to reprogram the $10 million for emergency projects elsewhere in the United States jeopardizes $4 million in matching state funds for dredging the harbor, building slips and other harbor improvements.

Case told Stockton he appreciates “assurances” from the Corps of Engineers to “honor its commitment” to restore the $10 million for the Kikiaola project repairs.

Case said he asked the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee in March for $14.5 million for the project, which includes the restoration of the $10 million and another $4.5 million to get the work started.

But the bill that was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee did not include these funds, he said.

While Case hopes the Senate will include $14.5 million in his Senate Energy and Water Committee appropriations bill, he expressed frustration at the delay.

“I am deeply concerned that this important and long-awaited project is again being delayed,” Case said in his letter Tuesday.

Case asked Stockton and his staff to seek restoration both administratively and through the ongoing appropriations process.

“Kikiaola Harbor project is of great importance to the people of Kaua‘i who have been waiting for more than 25 years to have the dangerous conditions of this harbor corrected,” Case said in the letter.

Bonfiglio said the reprogramming did not affect the Corps’ ability to award the construction contract.

“Under Corps of Engineers rules in place during that time period, the Honolulu District was required to return unused funds to other projects that could more effectively use the money,” Bonfiglio said.

In September 2005, the lowest bid was about two and half times more than the allotted funds for the project, Bonfiglio said, and the project was shelved.

“No contract can be awarded if the bid is not reasonable compared to the government estimate,” he said. “The difference is attributable to the robust construction climate and unpredictable prices, which makes accurate cost projection difficult.”

But without the federal funds, proponents of the harbor improvement say $4 million in in-kind state funds could lapse.

William Mossman, president of the Hawaii Boaters Political Action Association and vocal Kikiaola Harbor advocate, also received a copy of Case’s letter.

Mossman had sent communications to Case saying the delays have been going on for four years and that he was “tired of waiting” for the repairs.

Mossman’s son, Glenn Mossman, a resident of West Kaua‘i who has used the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor for 28 years, said the work has been delayed for eight years.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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