Seeking $9.4M in improvements

HONOLULU — A health facility, school buildings, affordable housing and park improvements are on the list of capital improvement projects Kauai legislators say are necessary for financing.

If passed, House Bill 1513 aims to appropriate $9.4 million for fiscal year 2017-18 for districts 14, 15 and 16. The sum is a fraction of the CIP allocation of $140 million secured by Kauai lawmakers last session.

Rep. Jimmy Tokioka (D-Wailua Homesteads, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Puhi, Old Koloa Town, Omao) is hoping to secure funding for affordable housing projects and new locker rooms at Kauai High School.

The shortage statewide for affordable housing concerns Tokioka, and an allocation of $3 million is proposed for the project.

“To start the ball rolling with planning and design money — but we didn’t want to limit it to that — it was the goal to try and figure out where we’re going to put the housing and finding partners that want to work with us to achieve that goal,” he said.

The county and state are in the process of looking for land to put up infrastructure if the measure is passed, he said.

The funding for design, construction and equipment renovations for the locker room showers are $500,00, according to the measure.

“Senate President Kouchi and I, every year before session starts, we visit all the schools in our district,” he said. “When we went to Kauai High School to look at the showers, it was deplorable and it was embarrassing that the showers were shut down. I’m not even sure where the kids who take PE or exercise go to shower.”

Broken tiles, shower heads and piping were in dire need of repair, he said.

“When we saw that, we made sure that we put money in there to try and address that problem,” he said. “If it’s done within two years, I’d be really happy. Some of these projects take a long time to be get updated.”

Led by Ed Kawamura, Tokioka is also proposing $200,000 be allocated for a design and construction of the Pua Loke Plant Nursery Arboretum site in honor of late lawmaker Spark Matsunaga.

Rep. Nadine Nakamura (D-Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Kapaa and Wailua) gave priority to Samuel Mahelona Medical Center, the Waikaea (Lihi) canal boat ramp and a new gym in Kapaa.

Nakamura said the state needs to make a decision whether to continue operations of the 100-year-old facility or rebuild a hospital.

“As the number of our elderly continue to grow on this island, we need to make sure we have a facility that can meet our needs,” she said.

Nakamura is proposing a $500,000 asset analysis study for the project.

“When you take a look at the infrastructure, a lot of it is crumbling and deficient, and we need to look at the bigger picture,” she said.

A drainage project and improvements to the Lihi Park and Waikaea Stream canal boat ramp in Kapaa would cost taxpayers $1.7 million.

“There are a lot of concerns with boaters, recreational users and fishermen about the access in and out of the canal,” Nakamura said. “There’s a lot of dredging that needs to happen to improve the access.”

Nakamura said the Lihi serves a large need for members of the Eastside and North Shore.

Plans for a multipurpose gym at Kapaa High School, Nakamura said, would cost $500,000.

“The gym is very old, dilapidated and very well used by the school and by the community,” she said. “Kapaa High School Principal Daniel Hamada said this is his No. 1 priority, to develop a new gym for the school and the larger community.”

The plan would include the initial design, land evaluation, planning and permitting for the facility.

On the Westside, Rep. Dee Morikawa (D-Niihau, Koloa, Waimea) said her main priority is improvements to Waimea park by the high school.

The $1 million cost would fund demolition, design and construction of backstop, dugout grandstand and field, lighting and lighting design.

“If we can get funding for that, it benefits the community and school. It will be a nicer field to play on and practice,” Morikawa said. “The county is in charge of the tennis courts and now that park facility.”

Morikawa said the project will be a joint venture.

“The state will help to fund the repairs and the county will come in and continue to do the maintenance,” she said. “Organizations will use it for practice and it is open for public use. The community can go there and watch games instead of having to travel further.”

Adding to improvements at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha, Morikawa is backing a $2 million proposal to upgrade the septic sewer system and build a new restroom.

“The community has stepped up to try and beautify the area around the pavilion and the restroom,” she said. “They are going to go in and do some fixing to the pavilion there and the state will provide the material, so that’s already another partnership with the community to benefit the facility.”

Facility upgrades are going well on West Kauai, Morikawa said.

“All in all, Westside, I think we’re doing pretty good,” she said. “It’s a good thing because it hasn’t happened in a long time.”

HB 1513 has been referred to the finance committee.

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