Community veterans center clears environmental hurdle

  • A rendering from the draft environmental assessment shows the proposed West Hawaii Community Veterans Center looking mauka from Ane Keohokalole Highway. (Image from draft EA/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The West Hawaii Veterans Council remains on a mission to build the West Hawaii Community Veterans Center, even though state grant-in-aid funding did not come through this legislative session.

A final environmental assessment with a finding of no significant impact for the project was published Wednesday in the May 8 edition of the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s twice-a-month Environmental Notice.

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With the finding, the nonprofit West Hawaii Veterans Council Inc. can move forward with designing and constructing the facility, which is expected to cost $12 million.

The council hopes to get work underway in 2021 on the first phase of construction of the facility that would provide veterans, veterans groups and the community alike with much-needed gathering space. The first phase comprises site preparation and constructing a parking area.

In all, three phases, each expected to cost about $4 million, will be needed to complete the facility.

The council has already secured state funding of $185,000 for plans, including this environmental assessment, and $965,000 for design. Grant-in-aid capital funding of $2 million sought this year from the state Legislature to get the project going was not awarded.

WHVC president Bob Strickland said Wednesday that the nonprofit will continue the effort to secure funding in the coming legislative cycles to bring the community center to fruition.

When complete, the 7,200-square-foot community center will comprise three single-story buildings connected by open-air pre-function areas. Inside, there’ll be a lobby, large and small meeting rooms, a social room, an office, bathroom facilities, storage and utilities, and commercial kitchen space.

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The council will rent facility space, including the 2,056-square-foot grand meeting room and 1,000-square-foot kitchen, to help cover the cost of running the facility, which is intended to be a fully self-sustaining entity.

The site, 3.8 acres south of Kaiminani Drive and mauka of Ane Keohokalole Highway, is across the street from the Kalaoa volunteer fire station. Access will be from Kaiminani Drive.

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