Anahola’s Project Faith loses lease

Project Faith, a 20-acre, $16 million development planned for Anahola, has been been put on hold due to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ revocation of the property’s lease.

“Milestones were not met, and the agreement was canceled in late 2007,” said DHHL spokesperson Lloyd Yonenaka. “We will not consider reinstatement.”

Gerald Mauhili, chairman of the Anahola Homesteaders Council, explained that the lease had been revoked despite the AHC’s written requests for a hearing with the DHHL commissioners.

“If we had any discrepancies, we asked to be heard at a commission meeting,” Mauhili said yesterday. “Why can’t we schedule a meeting? Let’s try to find out what you (the DHHL) want and how we can do it.”

“Our interest was to see them succeed,” Yonenaka said of the AHC. “We provided every opportunity for them to meet with us.”

“It was never a ‘we’ situation,” Mauhili said. “They never gave us an opportunity to explain ourselves. We believe our right to be heard is being violated.”

Project Faith had been awarded numerous government grants and received assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency, but Mauhili said that funding was the major obstacle in moving forward with plans.

“We’ve been working diligently to secure the financing,” he said. “We may have to scale back on the entire project and then expand when the economy bounces back.”

Project Faith, which has been in the works for more than a decade, was to be the site of a multipurpose town center that aimed to help native Hawaiians become self-sufficient.

According to plans on the group’s Web site, www.anahola.net, the project was to encompass a variety of aspects that would have made it an important location for many of the area’s residents.

Plans were split into five distinct phases.

Phase I was to focus on community services including a Native People’s Marketplace, a swap meet and rentable community spaces.

Phase II was to be an economic sector featuring shops, stalls, a gas station, a pharmacy and a restaurant.

Phase III was to provide educational services, including pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education, youth after-school activities and adult continuing education programs.

Phase IV was concerned with cultural services, specifically a hula halau and performance arts training programs.

Phase V was to deal with health services, including an elderly care/assisted living center featuring 64 beds and a wellness retreat providing lomi lomi massage and 18 studio hales.

In a May 2007 letter to AHC board member James Torio, obtained by The Garden Island, the state explained that it had yet to receive written confirmation of steps taken by the AHC to meet agreed-upon milestones.

The milestones listed in the letter were: a) clearing and maintainance; b) highway ingress/egress; c) infrastructure including roads, water and waste drainage; d) site work for construction; and e) perimeter improvements including signs, fencing and landscaping.

According to the letter, the agreement had begun on Oct. 1, 2002, making Sept. 30, 2007 the end of a five-year evaluation period.

“In five years, to not meet even one of those (milestones), I think that’s an indication that nothing had been done,” said Yonenaka. “We hold people that we do business with accountable.”

While Mauhili said the AHC would be open to a month-to-month arrangement allowing it to prove that it could make the project work, Yonenaka downplayed the possibility of a new lease.

“At this point, it’s probably in the best interest of the property to be included back into the Anahola regional plan so the community can decide how they want to use it.”

The 20-acre patch of land lies on the mauka side of Kuhio Highway, near mile marker 13, roughly two miles south of Anahola.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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