LIHUE — The County Council approved the purchase of property along the Hanalei River Wednesday.
The bill passed with five votes. Councilmembers JoAnn Yukimura and Arthur Brun were not present.
The 3.02 acres, which will be purchased from the Sheehan family, will cost $5.6 million, which is above market value but will end up saving the county money by avoiding the continuance of lawsuits.
“I can say that, and I think at the end of the day, fighting that legal battles in the court is a waste of money,” said council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa, who presented the bill before the council in late March.
The proposal, he said, is fair.
As far as development goes, Kagawa said there are things that need to be decided.
“Hopefully the local community up there will have the best and most say as far as where we want parking to be, where we want the restroom, what kind of restroom we want,” he said.
But before any construction on the park is begun, Kagawa said the first thing that needs to be done is to fix the road and make sure the reservoir doesn’t breach again.
“We’ve got to take our time, work with the community, and we’ll see,” he said.
Councilmember Mason Chock agreed with the purchase, but encouraged the county to take the time to step back and look at what happened not only in this area during the recent flooding, but all of the watershed areas on the North Shore, as well as on the Eastside and Koloa.
“I think this could serve as a model for us as a county to say ‘this is how we grow and rebuild in these areas,’” he said.
Council Chair Mel Rapozo said this land acquisition closes a long legal dispute.
“It was a very expensive battle and it would have been a much more expensive battle,” he said.
Funds for the acquisition came from the county’s open fund space.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.