Tuesday | May 31, 2016
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Council to consider courthouse donation

The state Judiciary wants to donate the North Kohala Courthouse in Kapaau to the county Department of Parks and Recreation.

During its Finance Committee meeting, the County Council will consider a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement to accept the donation of the facility. The meeting takes place at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Hilo Council Chambers.

If passed by the Finance Committee, the full council will likely vote on it in two weeks.

The council’s consent is required to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to accept the donation. The Hawaii County Code and Charter state that the council may accept gifts, including donations of land and improvements, on behalf of the county.

The 2.5-acre land was conveyed to the county from the Kohala Sugar Co. by a deed, recorded March 31, 1920. In or about 1975, the Judiciary built the courthouse on the property, wrote Finance Director Nancy Crawford in a Dec. 21 letter to the County Council.

In October, the Judiciary informed the county of its offer to donate the courthouse and the transfer of ownership would be at no cost to the county, the resolution states. Parks and Recreation already has a facility on the adjacent parcel.

Parks and Recreation Director Clayton Honma said the donation will help fulfill the need for another community gathering place in the area. His department plans to rent out the building for small parties, meetings and other public purposes. Also, the building can be used for regular daytime educational and recreational activities for seniors.

But before such plans could occur, Honma said the building’s leaking roof needs to be repaired, and the facility must be assessed for other repairs. Honma did not know what the potential cost to repair the roof would be or how long such a project would take. Nor could he give an estimated target date as to how soon Parks and Recreation would likely start using the building.

Ken Van Bergen from the Finance Department’s Property Management Division said he could not provide the current estimated value of the building because it had not been appraised. He deferred further inquiries about the value to the Office of the Corporation Counsel.

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said the last recorded value of the building was in 1975 by the Real Property Tax Division and the worth was totaled at $140,000.