‘Vision 20/20’ closer to reality

Much to the delight of Lesther Calipjo, cleanup of the future home of the Kauai Philippine Cultural Center continued this week.

“I’m really, really happy the community responded to what we’re asking,” he said as he drove through the undeveloped land next to the YMCA in Puhi and checked on progress made by Dow AgroScience employees who donated their labor Tuesday. “It’s really nice of them to show their support.”

While some crews manned heavy equipment to clear land, others wielded machetes and clippers to remove brush and weeds. 

There is still a long way to go to complete what started in 2010 and was named “Vision 20/20,” but Calipjo, president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, is confident it will happen. Groundbreaking on the $2 million phase one, he added, is targeted by year’s end.

“This will be the first cultural center in Kauai,” he said.

The two-phase project will include two buildings, a tropical garden, a parking lot and a footbridge. It covers two parcels totaling about 15 acres. The location, near Kauai Community College, schools, the YMCA and just east of the highway, is ideal, too, he said.

The cultural center would be inclusive, a place for all, Calipjo said. 

“We want to promote and showcase what we have, everybody is welcome to bring their cultures to the center.”

Calipjo noted many have contributed to the project. The county granted the nonprofit a 99-year license to lease 3.6 acres of property for $1 a year.

Grove Farm Company granted a 100-year lease of the adjacent 12 acres.

Organizers have secured $1.5 million in state grants, and need to raise just another $250,000 because an anonymous donor has pledged to match that amount.

Phase 2 is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. If all goes well, construction could begin next year, with a goal to have it competed by 2020.

“It is almost unbelievable to see the benchmarks of efforts that have brought us steadily closer to realizing the vision of an amazing gift of benefits to Kauai’s community,” wrote Eleele resident Millie Wellington.

Phase one will include a 9,653-square-foot community basketball court and a one-story, 12,725-square-foot building that will house office spaces, a commercial kitchen, and an event hall that can accommodate up to 220 people.

The second phase includes the construction of a 11,658-square-foot main hall.

Monthly cleanups of the site will continue, with different organizations committing volunteers.

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