July 22, 2003
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 546, a bill to revise the boundary of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in the State of Hawai`i.
The Department supports the enactment of H.R. 546, which is virtually identical to S. 254 as passed by the Senate on March 3, 2003. This legislation would adjust the boundary of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park to include two adjacent parcels of land, totaling 2.14 acres, to be used as the park headquarters to house administrative, interpretive, resource management, and maintenance functions. No appraisal has been done of these properties, but both parcels and the building were assessed for a total of $2.0 million, according to Hawaii County public records. Purchasing this property would allow the National Park Service to relinquish its existing lease, which costs $150,000 per year. Over the long term, this acquisition would prove more cost-effective than continuing the lease, even when adding in estimated annual maintenance costs of $24,000-$48,000.
Since 1988, the park has leased building space outside the park boundary to carry out needed administrative, interpretive, resource management and maintenance functions. These leased spaces have also been providing the basic means of visitor contact for park information and orientation. The amount of visitor parking available at this leased facility is completely inadequate (limited to 3 to 4 spaces).
The two parcels are adjacent to the existing park boundary though separated from the park by a state highway right-of-way. More then 90 percent of the land remains undeveloped and is large enough to accommodate the storage of park vehicles and equipment as well as visitor and staff parking. One of the parcels contains a 6,039 square-foot, two-story concrete block building that would permit an easy and inexpensive retrofit for use as the park headquarters. The building has never been occupied and contains offices, restrooms, a reception lobby, lab, storage areas, and a garage with roll-up trucking access doors and a loading dock. The entire side of the building facing the park consists of glass block walls from which sweeping panoramic views of the park, including the ocean, can be seen. The building interior is air conditioned and finished with floor tile and carpeting.
The location of the property between the Kona International Airport and the city of Kailua-Kona would be highly accessible to visitors to the Kona Coast and would be an invaluable asset for all of the National Park Service units on the Island of Hawai`i. It could support the co-location of a number of management functions for Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Pu`ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and would also house the offices of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
Established in 1978, the purpose of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is to provide a site for the preservation, interpretation and perpetuation of traditional native Hawaiian culture and activities, and to demonstrate historic land use patterns. An important management goal at the park is to limit the development of facilities within the park to those directly related to visitor services. The acquisition of the properties that would be brought into the boundary by H.R. 546 would allow for facilities related to park operations, including administration, resource management and maintenance, to be permanently sited in a location that would not impact park values and resources. In that respect, the boundary adjustment would be consistent with National Park Service Management Policies that states "the Service must avoid the construction of buildings, roads, and other developments that will cause unacceptable impacts on park resources and values."
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members might have.