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Final EIS for Kona Judiciary Complex approved

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Kona Judiciary Complex.

The FEIS now goes to Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who will select the site for the complex.

“We have been holding court in three different locations in Kona. Our law library is in the former morgue, part of the Old Kona Hospital has been converted into a court, and none of the facilities currently in use were designed as courthouses,” Rep. Denny Coffman said. “I am extremely pleased to hear that the Kona Courthouse EIS has been approved by the Governor’s office. Chief Justice Recktenwald can now announce the selected site location and project funding has already been allocated for the building design and planning phase of this project. It feels good that everything is in place to keep this project moving forward.

Third Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance’s courtroom is in the current Kona Courthouse, formerly the Kona Hospital. The law library also is housed in that building, in the old morgue.

Chief Third Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra’s courtroom is a stand-alone facility down Halekii Street.

Family Court operates out of space on Nalani Street, adjacent to La Bourgogne Restaurant.

“The pretrial holding area for district court defendants has no toilets or drinking water, forcing defendants to use public restrooms; this is a completely unacceptable risk to public safety,” Coffman said. “Consolidating courthouse operations in Kona to a single facility, a facility designed to be a courthouse, will save money, streamline operations, and increase public safety.”

The FEIS identifies seven potential sites for the Judiciary Complex. Following Recktenwald’s site selection, the permit process and design for the complex will begin.

Funding is in place for design and planning, although the land acquisition process won’t begin until Recktenwald makes the final decision.

Groundbreaking on the $90 million is not anticipated until at least next year.

“It’s been a longtime coming for the Judiciary, the local bar and the residents and it’s simply common sense,” said Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary. “Consolidating the courts and related services in one central facility actually designed to accommodate better public access, valid security concerns and efficiency will be welcomed by lawyers, the judges and staff, and the fast growing community in West Hawaii.”

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