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Public needs open shorelines

Maui News 1-24-08

Purchasing oceanfront land to protect it from development and preserve it for public use is a great idea. Purchasing a partially developed resort is not such a great idea.

As pointed out by Maui’s state senators, the fact that Gov. Linda Lingle is proposing the state – that is, the public – purchase a shoreline area to “keep the country, country” is something of a breakthrough that might help preserve Honolua Bay as it is.

The governor’s proposal to purchase Turtle Bay came as something of shock to legislators listening to her State of the State speech Tuesday. There were immediate questions about how it would be financed. The governor said she had thought of at least a dozen different ways of coming up with the estimated $1 billion needed.

In the short term, the governor suggested setting up a panel to study ways the financially troubled resort could be purchased. The panel idea is similar to the one being suggested by Maui Sen. Roz Baker and Rep. Angus McKelvey for the public acquisition of Honolua Bay and Lipoa Point.

Honolua Bay and Lipoa Point are undeveloped, and should stay that way. The idea of buying the property from Maui Land & Pineapple Co. was first brought up by the Save Honolua Coalition, a grass-roots organization that obviously would have difficulty raising the needed money. The idea was prompted by ML&P’s proposal to develop the bay and Lipoa Point. ML&P has put the proposal on hold for now.

The governor said purchasing Turtle Bay and possibly selling off the existing resort to pay for the open land yet to be developed “is the right thing to do for those of us living today, and for those who will be born in the decades ahead.”

There is no argument with the sentiment, and acquiring land – by the government or private organizations such as the Maui Coastal Land Trust – for public use is the only sure way of preventing development on the property.

Honolua Bay is a prime and worthy candidate for that kind of purchase. From a Maui perspective, the case for buying Turtle Bay is less compelling, particularly with the possibility the state purchase might be some kind of a business bailout.


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