Lai Opua Village construction delayed following lava tube discovery

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The first phase of construction for 118 Department of Hawaiian Homelands’ units in Kona will take a few months longer to finish than originally expected.

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The first phase of construction for 118 Department of Hawaiian Homelands’ units in Kona will take a few months longer to finish than originally expected.

The Lai Opua Village 4 Akau Subdivision project in Kealakehe should be complete by September as opposed to this summer, DHHL project manager Jeff Fujimoto said.

Fujimoto said the delay is due to the discovery of lava tubes in the area. The largest tube or cavern was found fully collapsed and already filled in, according to a recent DHHL press release, while all other lava tubes were sealed off.

No other tubes or caverns were found during any other excavations on the project.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to convert the originally-planned boat parking lot into a residential lot while possibly placing a new boat parking lot on land previously slated for a community park. According to the release, DHHL removed the park from the construction plans due to insufficient water credits.

Isemoto Contracting Company, Ltd., contractor for the project, anticipates the following work to occur during the next five months including completion of all utility work, inspections and testing finished by June, installation and testing of all lights by July, sidewalk and driveway construction for all lots by July, final grading, paving and striping for roadways by August, construction of a Post Office Box area by July and a final clean up and completion by September.

The project bid is estimated at $10, 346,493. About $9,800,846 from the Native American Housing Assistance Self Determination Act funding will go towards the project. Another $545,647 for telecommunications infrastructure will be financed by Sandwich Isles Communications.

The 118 lots are set aside for a “proposed” rent-with-option-to-purchase program, according to Lai Opua’s website.

The DHHL broke ground on Village 4 Akua and construction started on infrastructure work in February 2014. The 118 (originally said to be 117) residential homestead lots for Native Hawaiian families are located on about 34 acres of Hawaiian Home Lands mauka and south of Kealakehe High School.

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According to West Hawaii Today archives, villages at Lai Opua were first announced in 1986 as a state Housing Finance and Community Development Corporation master-planned community project that would offer market rate and affordable housing. During the early 90’s, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs sued the state over a dispute regarding the use of ceded lands for public assistance housing projects. The disagreement resulted in the state eventually transferring the acreage to DHHL for the Lai Opua homestead in 1997. The first subdivision was completed in 1999.

Anyone with concerns or questions may contact Karen Gast of R.M. Towill Corporation at 808-329-4494 or via email at kareng@rmtowill.com. All other questions may be directed to DHHL.

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