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Keaau Community Center construction pushed back

Long-gestating plans for a new youth center in Keaau will likely gestate some more as its planned start date gets pushed back.

The Lili‘uokalani Trust received county building permits to construct the Kipuka Keaau Community Center, a space for Hawaiian children and families to participate in after-school programs, back in 2018. But more than a year later, no start date for construction has been confirmed.

In 2018, after the county approved the project’s building request for a special permit, a spokesman for the trust said he anticipated construction of the 33,000 square-foot project would begin in late 2020. Now, however, that date appears unlikely.

“I’m going to say that’s probably not going to happen,” said Cynthia Jordan, communications manager with the trust.

Jordan said the design phase of the youth center has been completed, and does not require an environmental assessment, but any further progress of the project depends on the results of an ongoing evaluation of the trust’s many projects statewide.

The trust, established in 1909 by the last queen of Hawaii to care for the children of the state, operates 17 community centers statewide, and has a number of other planned projects in development, Jordan said.

The current evaluation of the trust’s projects is in response to its “real estate acquisitions and the repositioning of assets over the last several years” and is intended to identify which of those projects are of the highest priority, she said.

The trust-wide evaluation also comes less than a month after the trust’s leadership was reshuffled: Trust President Robert Ozaki resigned to become a trustee and was replaced by former Vice President Dawn Harflinger.

The Kipuka Keaau Community Center would be the fourth such youth center on the Big Island.

The three-building center would be located on a 6.7-acre lot immediately south of Keaau Elementary School. That close proximity would allow the trust to interact closely with the Keaau community, who could easily access the center’s facilities for after-school programs, a dance studio, a gym and more.

According to Hawaii real property tax records, the Lili‘uokalani Trust purchased the land for the project from W. H. Shipman last April for an undisclosed sum.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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