The Department of Land and Natural Resources has scaled back plans and selected a new site for a permanent administration building and base yard in North Kona.
The department revised the project after a site near the existing Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and makai of Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway was determined during the design phase to be “infeasible.” No specific details were given as to why it was found impractical to build near the harbor in a draft environmental assessment (EA) published Tuesday for a second site, 2 miles north and mauka of the highway.
The scope of the project would also be reduced and just five divisions — instead of seven — would be housed at the site. Though the project no longer includes a community conference center and climate-controlled collections warehouse it’s expected to cost $18 million, or about $1 million more than the larger facility proposed in 2017.
Further, timing and phasing could impact total costs, however. Currently, the environmental review process is expected to wrap up by the end of this year and design work to be completed in 2022. If funding is available, construction could begin by the end of 2022.
As now proposed, the facility will be built on 5 acres of a 79-acre state-owned parcel near the intersection of Kaiminani Drive and Laui Street, mauka of Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway. It would be situated about a mile south of Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, approximately 5 miles from the current offices site at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) expects a finding of no significant environmental impact, consultant Limtiaco Consulting Group said in the draft EA published Tuesday.
The proposed facility will include three, separate, but similar administration buildings totaling no more than 10,000 square feet. Storage areas, a conference room, a secured base yard and public and employee parking areas are also included in the current plans.
The project will likely be phased, with one building constructed per phase based upon need and funding availability, according to the draft EA. The first phase of development would be the installation of infrastructure.
The five divisions that would relocate are the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and Division of Aquatic Resources, which are currently located at the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor, and the Commission on Water Resource Management, the Division of State Parks and the State Historic Preservation Division.
Approximately 30 personnel will have workspace in the proposed facility and occasional meetings may bring 10 additional people to the facility for a limited time, according to the draft EA.
The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation will continue to utilize its space at the harbor per an existing governor’s executive order that directs the facility for the use. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife would remain in Hilo.
The DLNR did not respond to a request for comment regarding why the original site was deemed “infeasible,” the reduction in scope and the increased cost despite the overall facility being smaller.
Comments are due by March 25 to the proposing/determining agency and with a copy sent to the consultant. To find the draft EA for the “DLNR Administration Building and Base Yard in North Kona,” check out the latest edition of The Environmental Notice put out by the Office of Environmental Quality Control at http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/The_Environmental_Notice/2021-02-23-TEN.pdf.