Laaloa park one step closer

  • Land designated as a county park as part of a fair share deal for La‘ipala Makai is on the north side of Laaloa Avenue. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • A site plan for the proposed park on Laaloa Avenue. (Image capture from draft EA/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • This aerial image shows the location of the park on Laaloa Avenue. (Image capture from draft EA/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Land designated as a county park as part of a fair share deal for La‘ipala Makai is on the north side of Laaloa Avenue. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — A North Kona park proposed several decades ago could be coming to fruition.

Hawaii One1 Investors LLC will construct the first phase of the long-planned park on Laaloa Avenue off Alii Drive as part of its fair-share agreement in exchange for zoning and use permits from Hawaii County. The changes, approved more than a decade ago, allow for the development of La‘ipala Makai, a 62-unit planned unit development to be built south of Queen Kalama Avenue.


The park’s first phase, expected to cost $2 million to 3 million, would include a playing field, comfort station with an attached lanai, driveway, parking lot for approximately 40 vehicles, sidewalks and fencing.

Also to be completed would be graveled space ready for a tennis and basketball courts and sufficient open space for a playground, which may be constructed by the county Department of Parks and Recreation in the future. Subsequent phases would be the county’s kuleana.

The value of the park improvements will be credited against the required fair share contributions for La‘ipala Makai, and if the full amount is not expended it will be given to the county for “future recreational improvements in the area,” the EA states.

The County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation anticipates a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the project. A draft environmental assessment was published Sunday kicking off a 30-day comment period that ends May 8.

The park, which would serve an estimated 550 homes comprising 1,400 residents in the area, would be the only site for recreation within the 300-acre area other than Laaloa, also known as Magic Sands, Beach Park.

It would be built on 6.365 acres of county land situated north of Laaloa Avenue and mauka of the proposed Alii Highway, also referred to as the Kahului to Keauhou Parkway.

The environmental document did not provide an estimate of when the project would commence and Hawaii County Park Planner James Komata was unable to be reached for additional details. The developer also didn’t return a message Tuesday.

Before work can begin, a final environmental assessment must be completed, plans must be approved by the Planning Department, and building and other associated permits, including a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit permit, secured. The park is a requirement of a Special Management Area permit that was previously secured.

The acreage on which the park will be built is a portion of a 10.795-acre property conveyed to the county in 2001 by Town Development Hawaii to build Keauhou View Estates and Alii Heights as a condition of zoning changes and permit approvals.

It was supposed to be developed as a park by the Kona YMCA, however, that did not occur, and after more than a decade, the county subdivided the park, assuming ownership of the 6.365 acres. The Hawaii Island YMCA retained ownership of 4.43 acres mauka of the county parcel.

Wendy Cortez, Hawaii Island YMCA executive director, was not available for comment Tuesday.

In the environmental document released this week, it states the YMCA land is planned for eventual use as a passive park with walking facilities and, potentially, pavilions or other facilities for gathering.


“The timing and other details of this project are insufficiently developed to analyze potential cumulative construction or traffic impacts. However, it will complement the facilities at the subject park and the cumulative recreational impacts are expected to be beneficial,” the EA reads.

Comments on the draft EA, which can be viewed online at, should be sent to the county Department of Parks and recreation with copies to the applicant, HawaiiOne1 Investors LLC, and consultant, Geometrician Associates.

  1. jim williams April 11, 2018 1:02 am

    How about re-opening the Laaloa BEACH PARK PARKING LOT !!! Before the County gets involved in another costly project why not get our beach parking in order. Why did they close the Makai parking lot?

    1. Ron Cawthon April 11, 2018 5:59 am

      The reason the County closed the parking lot at La’aloa is the prior to building the parking lot the SMA permit required the registered religious and historic sites be protected with fairly simple protective measures, interpretive signage, buffers, and a approved Burial Treatment Plan for the known human remains of the site. The County developed the parking lot in 2001 without completing any of those requirements. During Harry Kin’s first term in office we met with him, he promised & “validated” the County had failed to comply with the mandatory Historic preservation laws. He commissioned a Burial Treatment Plan and the Hawaii Island Burial Council required the county remove the South end of the parking lot, reducing parking spaces by 7 stalls. During Harry Kim’s first 2 terms, virtually nothing happened after. In 2014 after Kenoi was elected we requested DLNR investigate the severe damage to the religious and historic sites. DLNR documented the damages, all being a direct result of the County of Hawaii failures to protect those sites. The Kenoi Administration agreed to remove the entire parking lot, yet nothing was done. In March of 2017 Curtis Tyler and I met with Harry Kim, we demanded the parking lot be closed until such a time as the county of Hawaii can comply with the Historic Preservation laws, and its commitments to protect the religious and historical sites for future generations. Regarding this new proposed park, the scam is Towne Development was required to pay $1.4 million for local park improvements, instead a scheme was created to build a deluxe YMCA facility, $1 million was raised to build it, but where is it? Now in exchange for the developer being allowed to create a high density subdivision next to White Sands Estates, the developer will supposedly pay for it. Problem is after extensive planning by YMCA, because of the lot configuration, its long and skinny, it was not suitable for a park..

      1. OLDWOLFE April 11, 2018 8:18 am

        So very sad! Abused and neglected . Once the foot print in the lava in front of the shark rock was washed away I knew it’s to late.

      2. LimeyinHi April 11, 2018 8:34 am

        So you ‘demanded’ closing the parking lot. What good did that do? Nothing has been done. Maybe you should demand that the other parking space be closed too. I bet there are people buried over there, there are burial sites everywhere.

        1. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 1:21 pm

          One it is well documented there is a human burial there that requires protective measures, by law. Closing the parking lot puts pressure on the County to finally comply with the law, and implement the 1997 Preservation Plan and 2004 Burial Treatment plan. Perhaps you should complain to the Mayor, and encourage him to make it pono, and protect the historic and religious sites, as required be law. And your right there are burial sites everywhere, they get run over by bulldozers, at La’aloa, which literally means very sacred in olelo Hawai’i, the community came together, to protect and respect this burial, instead of being destroyed by the originally proposed 80 stall parking lot…

          1. Buds4All April 11, 2018 4:14 pm

            Are you sure those are not Costco Chicken Bones?

          2. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 4:21 pm

            What a horrible thing to say!

          3. Buds4All April 13, 2018 10:04 am

            Because every time a bunch of liberals want to stop a project they pull that card. You would think by now they would have marked all these sacred spots to avoid the tax payers getting screwed!

          4. la'aloa ohana April 13, 2018 12:07 pm

            What as Liberal got to do with anything? The area where the parking lot at La’aloa is was placed on the state register of historic places in 1973, county bought the land in 1994, spent $50,000 on a study documenting those sites were required to be protected by law, if you live in the County of Hawaii, taxpayers should used to being screwed by government corruption and waste…or quit pointing fingers and take proactive actions…

          5. Dan April 13, 2018 1:42 pm

            I respect what you are saying regarding burial sites and their sanctity. I must however disagree with people living pono here. Pick any day at La’aloa or work some days cleaning the highway in coordination with Tony Del Mar and the adopt a highway program. There are still many local families dumping food trays, diapers, plastic cups and bottles after weekend parties at Higashihara Playground and Park as well as those who will use the highway as a dumping ground versus driving an extra quarter mile to the dump. The reality is 6 out of 10 times, the refuse you find and the families seen doing it are local. I agree with your assessment of government, however, your tax structure, your stems from a sense of apathy and “it’s not my responsibility that’s what I pay taxes for.” It also has nothing to do with race, religion, creed etc. It is all about what is taught at home at a young age and the lack of personal responsibility that is tolerated there. Helen Keller said it best, “Science may find a cure for many evils, but it has found no cure for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings.

          6. la'aloa ohana April 13, 2018 2:45 pm

            That’s the sad part of what happened at La’aloa Beach Park and many other places on Moku o keawe. First, whats a “local”, do you live on Hawai’i island, if so, aren’t you a local? What does a “local” look like, born in Hawaii, people of color, hippies, rednecks, are they all the same? The Hawaiian islands have been a melting pot of humanity longer than most people understand.

            Back to La’aloa, Dan the things you mention has become a major issue, the reason people have not been taught or understand what a ‘kuleana’ is, or how to ‘malama aina’, ‘Aloha aina’, all of our responsibility to care for these tiny islands in the middle of the ocean. In early 1990’s there was a movement to create places where everyone could learn these basic Hawaiian cultural values. When the La’aloa ohana was formed in 1994, the intention was to create a place at La’aloa, and possibly many others places in Kona, Hawaiian Cultural Centers.

            In January of 1995 a meeting was held with the Kupuna (elders), who were comprised of the most respected Hawaiian (kanaka) leaders in Hawaii, the community, Hawaiian Organizations, kanaka religious & cultural practitioners, and state & county government officials. Agreements were made, and instead of building an 80 stall parking lot at La’aloa, a full-on Cultural center would be created, the first in Kona. The vison was the Cultural center with a Polynesian open air Pavilion, where our community could gather, aunties and uncles, many of them kanaka, could share and teach Hawaiian Cultural values, Hawaiian Language, or anyone wanting to learn, all things Hawaiian. The Center was to be inclusive for everyone, no matter where they come from. We created an At Risk youth program, getting funding lined up, etc. etc.

            Here is the point Dan, Hawaiians have been trying to teach anyone willing to learn the importance of caring for, and taking responsibility of our moku (island). The County of Hawaii is still incapable of stewarding our island, Hawaiians and all local people have known this for a very long time. They have stepped forward with plenty aloha, and stepped-up to help them do their job, yet the County continues to want to maintain absolute control of over our parks, instead of allow our community to malama them?

            At La’aloa its really simple, its undisputed the County of Hawaii continues to violate multiple state laws, and nobody is holding them accountable?

          7. Sea San Koa April 11, 2018 7:31 pm

            Respect the dead? When I die I could care less what happens to my dead body because I’m dead. I don’t understand. I must be missing something?
            What is the big deal about bones everywhere. Just bones. I dont get it. I humbly ask what is the big deal on this? Anyone?

          8. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 5:51 am

            You are totally entitled to your beliefs…at present there are strict state of Hawaii laws that require the protection of iwi kupuna (human burials)… the host culture of the islands now called Hawaii respect their iwi kupuna, and believe that their ancestors mana remains in those iwi kupuna…while we would not endorse it, if some people do not like a law, there is a process to change it…we do encourage folks, including county of Hawaii officials to follow and comply with laws that protect iwi kupuna, and all the Historic preservation laws created perpetuate the rich multi-ethnic culture of these islands for future generations.

          9. Sea San Koa April 12, 2018 6:28 am

            With over 4000 religions in the world I would agree we are all are entitled to our beliefs and opinions and I now understand if you live in or around one a religion that’s different, one needs to adapt and respect the culture around you. Thank you for explaining la’aloa ohana.

          10. 4whatitsworth April 12, 2018 2:52 pm

            The issue these days is not the respect for the dead but the respect for the living. Haoles and a few Hawaiians have latched on to using burials to manipulate. This approach actually harms communities and even the adoption of the Hawaiian culture. Maybe that is one reason the state of Hawaii is actually now shrinking in population.

          11. jim williams April 12, 2018 1:55 am

            We all know that both the Sate and Hawaii County are both corrupt to the core and grossly incompetent , thanks for the explanation Laaloa Ohana. Only in Hawaii could the county do this but not be stopped until YEARS later.

          12. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 5:43 am

            And it continues with no accountability…bad news for the taxpayers is there are mandatory minimum daily fines of $500, up to $10,000, when Historic sites like the many at La’aloa are injured. Since 1997 DLNR has documented multiple injuries to historic sites, that have never been corrected. We have attempted for more than 25 years to help guide the County of Hawaii into complying with the strict Historic Preservation laws, that strategy obviously continues to fail. Do the math, the fines could be 10’s of millions of dollars. We are raising the funding to bring the issues into the courts, we have a solid attorney who specializes in such matters, and have come to the conclusion that the only way to force the County into compliance with the law, is seek the courts levy the millions of dollars in fines, re-gather the Kona Community, and start protecting the many neglected historic sites in Kona..

  2. diverdave April 11, 2018 12:12 pm

    The “park” should be ready for the homeless meth heads to move in any day now.

    1. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 1:27 pm

      Actually Magic Sands was the epicenter of the Ice epidemic in the 1990’s, which happened right after the County kicked out the kupuna, kanaka, and Hawaiians who were stewarding the area…

      1. diverdave April 12, 2018 12:15 am

        What OHA hasn’t stepped in with cash to help?

        1. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 5:28 am

          Great Question, answer is politics…when it gets down to it, despite the appearance OHA actually does little to nothing, full of corruption, self-dealings etc….that is one of the many reasons they are currently under investigation by the FBI…

  3. Joe Joe April 11, 2018 12:56 pm

    Standard protocol these days by the planning department ! Nothing has changed .

    1. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 1:32 pm

      The state of Hawaii, which includes the County, has the most corrupt Executive and Legislative branch of government, out of all the 49 states, according to a 2014 University of Illinois Report….indeed nothing changes, massive corruption, at the destruction of the Hawaii we all love…look who the big muck muck at the Planning Department in Kona, the former County Council person (Childs) who concocted the scam between Towne Development and the County of Hawaii…

      1. Vfaye April 11, 2018 2:21 pm

        The convicted child molester!

        1. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 2:28 pm

          Confessed & convicted…he got a sweetheart deal by County of Hawaii Prosecutors…we were there Judge Ibarra’s court clerk came down to the law library crying his eyes out because of the deal Childs got, and the judge could not do anything about it…he was rewarded a high paying job with the county of Hawaii???

          1. Vfaye April 11, 2018 11:35 pm

            A minor under 14 years old? HIs own son right?

  4. Buds4All April 11, 2018 4:11 pm

    Hope we see this…….

  5. John Smith April 11, 2018 4:34 pm


    At this rate of progress Hawaiians will have invented the wheel by the late 23 rd Century.

    1. la'aloa ohana April 11, 2018 4:48 pm

      Hawaiians were far ahead of their time, since long ago…in 1830 the Hawaiians had the highest literacy rate in the world…by 1852 they were internationally recognized as a neutral nation…also in 1852 slavery was prohibited in law, any slave coming to Hawaii was automatically a Free man (10 years before the American Civil war)…The Hawaiian Kingdoms national headquarters, had electricity years before the U.S. Whitehouse…

  6. Janet Hunter April 12, 2018 6:39 am

    It’s amazing that developers can build the homes first without having to fulfill the obiligation of extending roads or parks etc. the politicians seem to not care as they collect the tax revenue from the homes and occupant via taxes. And yet the traffic builds and the park lands sit empty. The people suffer in the end. Make the developers complete the obligation first then build the homes.

  7. Graystash April 12, 2018 7:41 am

    I am sooooo tired of the Corruption and do nothing that is so rampant in Hawaii !! Make the developer complete the park before building what ever they are planning !! Stop taking decades to “plan” something and then totally screw it up !! Such as the widening of the hwy from Kona to the Airport ???

  8. 4whatitsworth April 12, 2018 10:51 am

    So if the park costs the developer 3M and there are 62 units that is 48K+ per unit. I wonder what these houses will need to cost when the development is finished.

    1. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 12:13 pm

      We wonder what impact those high density units, that will look like Pine Trees, will have on Alii Drive…

      1. 4whatitsworth April 12, 2018 1:03 pm

        You bring up a good point on traffic. Since La’aloa was put in, and more people are using the bypass road, traffic has gotten much worse on Alii and HWY 11 between Keauhou and Kona. This said that does not mean we should block off La’aloa or the bypass to alleviate traffic in this area.

        The way I see it there is eventually going to be development in areas that are designated urban which this area is. The question is will it be good development that makes for a nice community and contributes to amenities like public parks and roads or is it going to be low income housing? There is already a state law on the books that if a development is 51% low income housing that it can go through without public or even county support.If we decide to block all development that really stymies the local economy and fuels the need for low income housing.

        In my view advocating for good development will lead to a better outcome than no development, but I know a lot of people disagree with this idea so we will see. I think the debate should be what does this new 61 unit development look like will it be a neighborhood that we will be proud of? Or will it be an eye sore or a low income facility that resembles a trailer park.

        1. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 1:32 pm

          Sad to say all the planning laws & rules don’t matter if government agencies don’t enforce them on the larger developers who are “connected”, they can do pretty much whatever they want, until someone holds accountable in the courts, like what happened at Hokulea…

          1. 4whatitsworth April 12, 2018 3:33 pm

            So you know the planning and zoning laws would allow a high density low income housing development in this neighborhood. Your statement is not correct you don’t need to be connected. There such a need for affordable housing and economic development there is a Hawaii state law for low income housing and when I read this stuff that is for good reason many local folks need to work and be able to afford a house.

          2. la'aloa ohana April 12, 2018 3:53 pm

            Actually the county council allowed the land to be rezoned for a higher use than the land is zoned for, apparently in exchange for the developer cleaning up the County’s mess at the YMCA parcel. The rep for the developer is a former Director of Parks and Recreation for the County? Yes indeed there is a clear need for affordable housing, but there is no requirement for the developer to provide any affordable housing. Developing land only provide temporary jobs, destroying Hawaiian historical sites and cause long term negative impacts on our communities infrastructure. These new houses will not be purchased by local people, as they will be to expensive, most will be bought by newcomers and investors…

          3. 4whatitsworth April 12, 2018 5:06 pm

            What you say is true but if the developer wanted to do a low income housing project they could have bypassed the county and the 40-50K per unit contribution to the park. Is that what everyone really wants in this neighborhood?

            Also with this cost and all the additional soft costs for archaeology and what sounds like a legal fight I would agree these cost will be unaffordable for local folks even with good jobs, and if the costs are to high there will be a developer bankruptcy so maybe there will not even a be a park contribution in our future just higher taxes sent to Hilo.

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