Categorized | Featured, News

West Hawaii college campus now on target for 2013

DLNR harbor agent Dan Mersburgh addresses the Kona Town Meeting. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Baron Sekiya)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

The West Hawaii community college campus now may open its doors to students in late 2013, according to the latest timeline offered by John Morton, UH vice president for community colleges.

Morton, speaking at last week’s Kona Town Meeting, assured the audience that the 78-acre Palamanui campus is still a priority for the university and developers Guy Lam and Charles Schwab.

Several in the crowd of about 80 people expressed concern that the developers may try to duck out to their end of the deal, but Morton said he has confidence in them.

“I was here three years ago and I understand your frustration,” he said. “Palamanui is still very much committed and they know they have obligations.”

When pressed on the issue, Morton said, “We are not dependent totally on them. We will make it happen. The most likely alternate source (of funding) is the state Legislature.”

The design work is expected to be complete by the end of the year and once the required county permits are secured, construction could begin on the $9 million Phase I as early as May 2012.

Construction is slated to take 18 months, meaning a late 2013 opening for the facility that will be certified LEED platinum status.

Upon opening, the Palamanui campus will offer 23,000 square feet of space, or enough to accommodate 750 full-time equivalent students. Currently, the community college makes do with 13,000 square feet for its 450 FTE students.

Morton said the project was pushed back some 8 months, largely due to the economic climate, and the university now has taken over building the access road from Kaiminani Drive north to the campus.

Looking toward the future, Morton said Phase II is expected to cost $5 million and Phase III is up at $17 million.

Also on the agenda was an update on Honokohau Harbor improvements by Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman William Aila Jr. However, Aila was not at the meeting, leaving the update to Dan Mersburgh, harbor agent for Honokohau and Kawaihae.

DLNR is focused on repairing the damage caused by the March tsunami, Mersburgh said, and is waiting for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue a notice to proceed for repairs at Kailua Pier ($1.4 million), Keauhou Small Boat Harbor ($550,000) and Honokohau Small Boat Harbor ($12,000).

“We will front the money to do the repairs and then be reimbursed by FEMA afterward,” he said.

Mersburgh also said replacing the makai loading dock at Honokohau is expected to begin soon. That project carries a $591,000 price tag.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.